The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“Lullaby of Birdland” By George Shearing

You’ve just listened to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Lullaby of Birdland”, a song written by George Shearing in 1952. The song was only supposed to be a theme for the Birdland jazz club, but it got so popular after Sarah Vaughan’s 1954 version that it’s become an incredibly well-known jazz standard.

Despite the song’s air of ease, its creation was a struggle. In his autobiography, Shearing recounts showing his wife Trixie something he wrote and the brutally honest opinion that followed. He got so stuck that he considered sending the work that Trixie disapproved of, until two days later at the dinner table. In Shearing’s words, “I rushed over to the piano… and played right through Lullaby of Birdland… Within ten minutes I’d got the entire song worked out.”

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