Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

4. Billie HolidayThe Complete Decca Recordings

I was in my first month at Berklee and I went into the Virgin Records store, and they were going out of business so everything was on sale, which was great, so I went in there to buy a bunch of CDs and stuff that they were just trying to get off the shelves. As broke students we needed music so badly, so it was a great thing that was happening. So I went there and I found this beautiful compilation. I would never have been able to afford it unless Virgin was going out of business. I was so happy to own something so tangible; not just like a jewel case CD or whatever, there were amazing liner notes and a beautiful booklet – it was just art itself, the way that these Decca recordings were packaged. And on those four CDs there’s also outtakes and stuff, so it felt really special, this thing that I had got my hands on. Now it’s easy to access that stuff online, but at the time in 2005, it was so precious to have that. I was already such a huge fan of hers. So I really loved having that in its physical form and I ran those CDs into the ground. They’re at my mom’s house in Lahore now, which is good. I like to keep them there because I’m in New York and everything’s chaos here. I don’t want to lose that thing.

I still do listen to Billie Holiday – not all the time, but how can you not? There’s just some days that are for her, you know?

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