Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Moanin' Low with Libby

I'm having a terrific time reading the biography of Libby Holman, "Dreams That Money Can Buy: The Tragic Life of Libby Holman" by Jon Bradshaw.

Libby Holman was a Broadway star in the hey days of the roaring 20's. She was known for her unusual voice - deep and husky and raspy - and an outrageous and uninhibited personality. She introduced such blues classics as "Body and Soul," "Moanin Low," "Am I Blue," and "Find Me a Primitive Man."

She married Smith Reynolds, the heir to the Reynolds Tobacco fortune; six months after they were married, he was found dead of a bullet wound. Libby and Smith's best friend were indicted for murder in a scandal that made front page headlines and later became the basis of movies starring Jean Harlow and Lauren Bacall. Because of the intervention of the powerful Reynolds family, however, the case never came to trial and Libby was set free, to be haunted by the ambiguities of her guilt or innocence.

Although she and her son inherited almost $7million after Smith Reynold's death (back in the days when a million was worth a million!), her career was in ruins, and thereafter, almost every man she touched died violently.

The year after the murder, Cole Porter asked her to play the lead in his new play "Anything Goes," but she turned it down. The role was Reno Sweeney - the role that made a huge star of Ethel Merman.

I'm taking the entire afternoon off and finishing the book ... I'm riveted to her story. It's like a faery tale - well, a very very dark and disturbing faery tale!

Here is Libby singing her classic "Moanin Low." She would never make the cut on American Idol - but her unique sound epitomizes the glamorous and shoddy 1920's of speakeasies, Harlem nightclubs, midnight swims off yachts, and drinking champagne out of women's slippers.

Enjoy your afternoon!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

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