Today marks the birthday of the “Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald. Famous for her silky voice and successful jazz standards, Fitzgerald knew how to bring tears to audiences’ eyes with her achingly beautiful renditions of popular torch songs. In honor of the Queen of Jazz, we’ve rounded up other weep-worthy, sentimental ballads from the 1920s that sing of lost love and other romantic dilemmas we can all relate to. Turn to these tunes while you’re busy crushing on that someone special from afar or licking your wounds following a summer fling.
Helen Morgan, “Why Was I Born?”
“Why was I born? Why am I living?” croons ’20s torch singer Helen Morgan in her sadface rendition of “Why Was I Born?” The famous song appears in Hammerstein and Kern’s 1929 Broadway musical, Sweet Adeline, in which Morgan played the title character. Morgan started her career in Chicago speakeasies, eventually landing a role in the 1927 musical Show Boat. Her life was as troubled as the songs she performed. Morgan lost her battle with alcohol, dying at 41 from cirrhosis of the liver.