Don't Explain (song)

"Don't Explain" is a song written by jazz singer Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr.[1]

"Don't Explain"
Single by Billie Holiday
B-side"What Is This Thing Called Love?"
RecordedNovember 8, 1944
Songwriter(s)Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr.
Billie Holiday singles chronology
"Lover Man"
"Don't Explain"


In her 1956 autobiography, Holiday cites the infidelity of her first husband, Jimmy Monroe, as the inspiration for this song; specifically, an instance in which Monroe's woeful attempt to explain away lipstick on his collar elicits Holiday's disgusted response: "Take a bath, man; don't explain."[2]

Recording sessionEdit

Session #52: New York City, November 8, 1944, Decca, Toots Camarata and His Orchestra, with Russ Case (trumpet), Hymie Schertzer, Jack Cressey (alto saxophone), Larry Binyon and Dave Harris (tenor saxophone), Dave Bowman (piano), Carl Kress (guitar), Haig Stephens (bass), George Wettling (drums), Billie Holiday (vocals), and six strings.[3]

Notable cover versionsEdit



Lyrics from "Don't Explain" were sung by Carlo Marx (portrayed by actor Tom Sturridge) in the 2012 film adaptation by Walter Salles of the novel by Jack Kerouac, On the Road, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.[9]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Dick & Harriet. Who Wrote That Song?, Writers Digest Books (1994), page 57 – ISBN 0-89879-639-3
  2. ^ Holiday. Billie (1956; 2006). "Mother's Son-in-Law". Lady Sings the Blues. New York: Harlem Moon, Broadway Books (Random House). p. 119. ISBN 978-0-7679-2386-6.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 10, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "". discogs. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  5. ^ Christopher Loudon (December 13, 2012). "Malia: Black Orchid". JazzTimes. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  6. ^ "Mariah Carey Don't Explain live in japan 2014 the elusive chanteuse show". November 7, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2016 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ C. Michael Baitley (November 8, 2014). "Nancy Kelly: B That Way". All About Jazz. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 15, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ Alagna, Magdalena. Billie Holiday, The Rosen Publishing Group (2003), page 61 – ISBN 0-8239-3640-6

External linksEdit