Dinah Washington – Blue Gardenia (EmArcy Records 1955)

“Blue Gardenia” is a song for the film “The Blue Gardenia.” It was written by Bob Russell and Lester Lee. It became a jazz standard, performed by Nat King Cole, and of course Dinah Washington. Nat King Cole sings the title song and appears in the movie.

Dinah’s accompanied by Quincy Jones (arr), Cecil Payne (baritone saxophone), Keter Betts (double bass), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Quinichette (tenor saxophone), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone) and Clark Terry (trumpet). Recorded in New York, March 15, 1955. (EmArcy Records)

Dinah Washington, born Ruth Lee Jones (August 29, 1924 — December 14, 1963), was an American singer and pianist, who has been cited as “the most popular black female recording artist of the ’50s”. Primarily a jazz vocalist, she performed and recorded in a wide variety of styles including blues, R&B, and traditional pop music, and gave herself the title of “Queen of the Blues”. She is a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

According to Richard S. Ginell at Allmusic: “[She] was at once one of the most beloved and controversial singers of the mid-20th century – beloved to her fans, devotees, and fellow singers; controversial to critics who still accuse her of selling out her art to commerce and bad taste. Her principal sin, apparently, was to cultivate a distinctive vocal style that was at home in all kinds of music, be it R&B, blues, jazz, middle of the road pop – and she probably would have made a fine gospel or country singer had she the time. Hers was a gritty, salty, high-pitched voice, marked by absolute clarity of diction and clipped, bluesy phrasing…”

Washington was married seven times. Her husbands were John Young (1942–43), George Jenkins (1946), Robert Grayson (1947), bassist and bandleader Walter Buchanan (1950), saxophonist Eddie Chamblee (1957), Rafael Campos (1961), and pro-football player Dick “Night Train” Lane (1963). She had two sons: George Kenneth Jenkins and Robert Grayson.

Washington was an outspoken unapologetic liberal Democrat. She once said, “I am who I am and I know what I know. I’m a Democrat plain and simple, always have been. I’d never vote for a Republican because in my opinion they don’t have what it takes to run any kind of private or public office. That’s all.”

Early on the morning of December 14, 1963, Washington’s seventh husband Lane went to sleep with his wife, and awoke later to find her slumped over and not responsive. Doctor B. C. Ross came to the scene to pronounce her dead. An autopsy later showed a lethal combination of secobarbital and amobarbital, which contributed to her death at the age of 39. She is buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

Blue Gardenia
now I’m alone with you
and I am also blue.
He has tossed us aside

And like you, gardenia,
Once I was near his heart.
After the tear drops start,
Where are tear drops to hide?

I lived for an hour,
what more can I tell?
Love bloomed like a flower
Then the petals fell.

Blue gardenia,
Thrown to a passing breeze,
But pressed,
Yes, there pressed in my book of memories.

I lived for an hour,
What more can I tell?
Love bloomed like a flower
And then the petals fell.

Blue gardenia,
Thrown to a passing breeze,
But pressed
In my book of memo-ries,

But pressed
In my book of memo-ries.

This Can’t Be Love · Dinah Washington For Those In Love ℗ A Verve Label Group Release; ℗ 1955 UMG Recordings, Inc. Released on: 1955-01-01