Billie Holiday’s perfect summer song

When Glenn McDonald was analyzing songs for their “summery” qualities (“The downbeat summer hit-o-meter,” Ideas, Aug. 18), did he even bother to listen to “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”? Or did he just assume that everything Billie Holiday sang was a downer?

Yes, her work as a whole has its share of gloom, but “Moonlight” is sunny from start to finish. Taken at an exhilarating tempo (faster than anything else on the list), it’s alive with the exuberance of young musicians in the vanguard of pop who knew they were good and loved playing together.


The silly lyric, which Holiday sings with such gusto, adds to the cheerfulness with its promise of moonlit kisses.

The song became a staple of her repertoire, and even in later years, when her voice was in tatters, the tempo was still bright and the mood upbeat.

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It’s actually a perfect summer song.

So much for so-called scientific music analysis.

Andy Moore


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