I’ll Be Seeing You

In April of 1944, Billie Holiday recorded the jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” with Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra. This tune connects to both the sentimental nostalgia and sorrow that many people felt upon losing their loved ones during the Invasion of Normandy. The song “I’ll Be Seeing You” is originally from the musical Right This Way. It was an unsuccessful “flop” musical composed by Brad Green with lyrics by Irving Kahal and book written by Marianne Brown Waters (Playbill).

The musical premiered on January 15 in 1938 at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City. It starred comedian Joe E. Lewis (Daniels). Right This Way closed 10 days after it opened on January 15, 1938 with only 15 performances.

The musical produced two songs that outlived its debut. One was popular song was “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” recorded by Patty Andrews for Decca (Daniels). The other one of course, is “I’ll Be Seeing You” which is now a jazz standard.

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It has been recorded by numerous artists including but not exclusive to: Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Billy Holiday. The song “I’ll Be Seeing You” takes place in the second act of Right This Way (IBDB). There is not much information kept about the plot of the musical, but “I’ll Be Seeing You” is sung by the character Mimi Chester at a Paris Café. The song is about missing someone and seeing them in the everyday things.

Mimi sees this person in a variety of ways: in the café, the park, the children’s carousel, the chestnut tree, and the wishing well.

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She sees them in all the old familiar places, even if they aren’t there in person, the memory of them is. Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She spent her childhood in Baltimore, and eventually moved to New York (Yanow). She coined the name Billie Holiday from a screen star at the time named Billie Dove. When Holiday was 18 years old she was spotted by John Hammond while she was performing in a Harlem nightclub, from there she did her first record with a studio group led by Benny Goodman. Her career only grew from there. Lester Young pegged her “Lady Day” when she began working with him in 1936. Billie Holiday was the first black woman to work with an all-white orchestra in 1937 when she joined.

Count Basie, and then a year later in 1938 with Artie Shaw (billieholiday.com). She is also incredibly well known for the song Strange Fruit. Billie Holiday passed away at the early age of 44 on July 17, 1959. Eddie Heywood was a jazz pianist born in Atlanta, Georgia on December 4th,1915. His father was an accompanist for a vaudeville theater. Growing up, Eddie occasionally accompanied Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. He was the pianist for Benny Carter’s band in 1938 (Wilson) until John Hammond suggested that Heywood organized a sextet in 1943. The sextet is the same one that is heard in “I’ll Be Seeing You.” At the height of Eddie Heywood’s career, his hands became paralyzed. After two years of therapy he was able to play again. Eddie Heywood passed away at the age of 73 on January 3rd, 1989.

“I’ll Be Seeing You” was recorded by Billie Holiday with Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra on April 8th, 1944 at WOR recording studios in New York City starting at 2:30 p.m. Billie, of course is the singer heard and Eddie Heywood is on the piano. The track also features Doc Cheatham on the trumpet, Vic Dickerson on the trombone, Lem Davis on the alto saxophone. The rendition of this song is from the swing era. It has a danceable tempo. The tune is thorough composed and there are is no improvisational solos. The only instrumental solo is Heywood’s brief piano solo at the beginning of the tune before Billie starts singing. His solo is stylistically sweet sounding and fits into the swing sound.

The accompanying instruments’ melodic swell and release are the perfect slow, romantic dance accompaniment. According to American jazz reviewer and historian Scott Yanow, “Billie Holiday’s voice was actually at its strongest during her period with Decca. This seems to prove true in the case of her recording here Eddie Heywood and his orchestra. Heywood’s tender piano stylings make a good pairing with Holiday’s emotive timbre. Billie Holiday’s voice is poignant and while she was never vocally trained, her natural gift for emoting the lyrics she sang is prominent in “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Little after this song was recorded, the biggest seaborn invasion in history took place. D-Day, also known as the Invasion of Normandy, took place on June 6th, 1944 starting at 6:30 am.

D-Day is considered the beginning of the end of World War II. It forced the Germans to have battles on both sides, like they did on World War I. The ‘D’ in D-day has been used in many military operations, but after the D-Day in 1944, it is associated with the Allied Invasion of Normandy. The war had been going on for almost five years at this point. “No one had dreamed that the war could last so long (Dank). The first three years of WWII were almost entirely Nazi victories, and almost the whole of Europe was underneath Hitler’s power. The Allied forces of Canada, Britain, America, and France attacked German forces on the coast of Normandy, France. These Allied forces had a massive force of over 150,000 soldiers.

D-Day is considered one of the biggest turning point in World War II. D-Day began an eleven-month attack that ended in Berlin at Adolf Hitler’s headquarters (BBC). D-Day had a massive impact on the rest of the war. It started to wrap things up. The Invasion of Normandy marked the beginning of the end to Hitler’s regime. It was “the immediate aftermath of America’s entry into the war” (Carter). The German Army suffered their greatest catastrophe because of June 6th, 1944. At the end of D-Day, the Allies had 156,000 troops on the shore of France. According to BBC, “Portsmouth’s D-Day Museum says an estimated 2,500 Allied troops died on the day of the invasion (BBC).

Allied casualties were estimated to be at 4,000 to 9,000 men. So, even though things were looking up, the Invasion of Normandy paid a steep price in the lives of many men. Back in America on the home front, many families were hoping and praying that their loved ones would return safely. Many war personnel would not return to their families. There was such strong effort coming from the home front including food rationing, scrap metal collections, etc. The blue stars that used to be in the windows of military families were covered with gold stars, meaning that the serviceman had died in the war. There were many conflicting feelings amongst the mourning families. They were proud of their loved ones for having the courage to go fight in World War II, but ultimately, they weren’t living anymore.

“I’ll Be Seeing You” reached #1 the week of July 1st, 1944, a little less than a month after the Invasion of Normandy. This recording was actually done by Bing Crosby, but it was Billie Holiday’s recording with Eddie Heywood and his orchestra that is most remembered. Upon a quick Google search of the song title, and Billie Holiday floods the search results. Many people after D-Day empathized with Irving Kahl’s lyrics in “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Losing a loved one is never easy, and it is comforting to look for them in our day to day lives. In “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Kahl illustrates: His lyrics brought comfort to many people and eased the stinging pain grief that many families were going through.

It is also worth mentioning that shortly after Billie Holiday’s recording “I’ll Be Seeing You” with Eddie Heywood was released, Billie was in jail for a year for heroin possession and Heywood’s hands became paralyzed. In a way, they both had to see their lives and passions in different ways than they were used to out of necessity. The same way mourning families had to ‘see’ their dead loved ones in everyday things as described in “I’ll Be Seeing You.” “I’ll Be Seeing You” recorded by Billie Holiday with Eddie Heywood and his orchestra brought a bit of relief to many listeners during the time of the Normandy Invasion. It made listeners look for their deceased loved ones in the beauty of every day and remember the fond memories they shared. Heywood’s piano melodies sound like a gentle summer breeze as Billie Holiday croons out the words.

Works Cited

  1. “Billie Holiday.” Billie Holiday, www.billieholiday.com/
  2. “Blue Star Banner.” The American Legion, www.legion.org/troops/bluestar
  3. Carter, Ian. “Why D-Day Was So Important to Allied Victory.” Imperial War Museums, 8 Dec. 2017, www.iwm.org.uk/history/why-d-day-was-so-important-to-allied-victory
  4. Daniels, Robert L. “The Broadway Musicals of 1938.” Variety, Variety, 27 Mar. 2007, variety.com/2007/legit/reviews/the-broadway-musicals-of-1938-1200509376/
  5. Dank, Milton. D-Day. Watts, 1984.
  6. League, The Broadway. “IBDB.com.” IBDB: Internet Broadway Database, www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/right-this-way-10703/#songs
  7. “Right This Way Broadway @ 46th Street Theatre – Tickets and Discounts.” Playbill, PLAYBILL INC., www.playbill.com/production/right-this-way-46th-street-theatre-vault-0000003150
  8. “The Effects of D-Day .” Gustave Courbet, www.mtholyoke.edu/~kmmurray/The%20Longest%20Day/The%20Effects%20of%20D-Day.html
  9. “What Was D-Day and Why Is It Important? – CBBC Newsround.” BBC, BBC, 5 June 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/27711699
  10. “World War II.” Ducksters Educational Site, Technological Solutions, Inc., www.ducksters.com/history/world_war_ii/d-day_invasion_of_normandy.php
  11. Yanow, Scott. “The Unofficial BILLIE HOLIDAY Website.” The Unofficial BILLIE HOLIDAY Website, www.ladyday.net/

Cite this page

I’ll Be Seeing You. (2022, Jan 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/i-ll-be-seeing-you-essay

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