Billie Holiday and Jesus
At this time of year two people come to my mind: Billie Holiday and Jesus.
Billie Holiday Worried about Money
Billie Holiday was an extraordinary African American jazz singer who never had enough money. She sang about it in one of her most popular recordings, ‘God Bless the Child’.
Yes, the strong gets more While the weak ones fade Empty pockets don't ever make the grade Mama may have, Papa may have But God bless the child that's got his own That's got his own
Apparently the idea for the song came to Holiday when she asked her mother for some cash and her request was refused. Her anger spilled into lyrics and another hit was born.
There are many interpretations of what the words really mean. It makes reference to the perpetual cycle of economic inequality, alludes to family squabbles over finances, hints that only those who have get more, and highlights the power of money.
I’d like to add another interpretation: at a deeper level this song isn’t about money. It’s about being your own person.
Which leads me to the subject of Jesus.
Jesus Never Worried About Anything
At Christmas time we see many images of baby Jesus lying swaddled in a manger stuffed with fragrant straw. This prompts us to dwell on birth, hope, salvation, renewal – things more important than how much is in your wallet.
Jesus didn’t worry about money, fame or a roof over his head. He loved people, shared what he had, touched the afflicted and addressed the hearts of hypocrites. He was prepared to die rather than deny what he knew to be true.
At the end of one version of the song ‘God Bless the Child’ Holiday added a line:
He just don’t worry ‘bout nothing, cos he’s got his own.
Jesus didn’t worry about anything.
He had his own.
He marched to the beat of his own inner drum.
He fulfilled his purpose.
Billie Holiday once said:
If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.
Be like Billie Holiday and Jesus.
Sing your own song in your own way.
Fulfill your purpose.
And don’t worry ‘bout nothin'.
That's being mindful.
With love, Marlane