Lanie told me this is why he wrote Lady Day about Billie Holiday:
“In 1959 a friend of mine saw the great Billie Holiday in a little dive in North Philadelphia about three months before she died. He said she stumbled in obviously quite high carrying her little Chihuahua, Pepi, whom she introduced to the audience. A water glass was kept filled with booze atop the piano for her.
She and a piano player performed ten or 12 songs for an audience of seven patrons. Then she staggered out. That image of the world’s greatest jazz singer being so undervalued at the end of her life and career was an image that has always haunted me. Writing Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill was an attempt to rid myself of that ghost.”