Happy Birthday, Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald, circa 1946. (Photo by William P. Gottlieb)

Ella Fitzgerald, circa 1946. (Photo by William P. Gottlieb)

Today is Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday–she would have turned 96–and there’s a lovely Google doodle up now to honor the occasion.

It seems to us, though, that the best way to pay tribute to the the great jazz singer is to listen to her music, which is what we’ve been doing, non-stop, for the past couple of hours.

Below, we’ve assembled a playlist containing some of our favorite Ella tunes, those we’ve returned to through the years. The list is by no means exhaustive, and we encourage you to strike off on your own, dig into Ella’s vast discography and find the songs you like–if you haven’t already.

Anyway, without further ado, we bring you five classic tunes by the “First lady of Song.” As Louis Armstrong liked to say, “Take it, Ella, swing it.”

“How Long Has This Been Going On?”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbTQWdnpjBk&w=420&h=315%5D

Ella could deftly handle any musical situation, whether backed by a pianist or an entire orchestra.

“Someone To Watch Over Me”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDhF-PsDuCw&w=420&h=315%5D

Arranged by Nelson Riddle–who worked, notably, for Frank Sinatra–this beautiful ballad was written by George Gershwin.

“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoJP4g9TB0Y&w=420&h=315%5D

“Couldn’t sleep, was dyspeptic,” goes a line of this Rodgers and Hart composition. They don’t write ’em like that anymore.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPOlakkBlj8&w=420&h=315%5D

This ballad was originally written, without lyrics, by the pianist Erroll Garner.

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaEaoo9lNmk&w=420&h=315%5D

Ella collaborated with Louis Armstrong many times throughout her career, but the album on which this song first appeared, Ella and Louis, was perhaps their finest achievement. Happy Birthday, Ella Fitzgerald