A Noir Soundtrack by Lotte Lenya and Billie Holiday

The utterly brilliant 1930s jazz singers, the untrained voices, of Lotte Lenya and Billie Holiday, convey more than the sum of the parts, and all depict the noir sentiments perfectly:

  • There are no winners
  • Futile revenge
  • Corruptable protagonists
  • The misery of the human condition
  • Revelling in the senses
  • Obessive love
  • and much, much more

Here’s the young Lotte Lenya Singing “Seeräuber Jenny” (Pirate Jenny) 1931, in German, of course. Listen for her use of the word ‘Hoopla!’ on 2:39.

And Billie Holiday & Lester Young – Me, Myself And I (1937). Billie sings the word, ‘Me’ with some feeling on 1:50, and with increasing feeling towards the end. Just brilliant.

I’m on the lookout for more to add to this list.