“Love for Sale” is the only song on this list attributed to the songwriter rather than the performer, because Cole Porter was in a class all by himself. Originally penned for the Broadway play “The New Yorkers,” the song’s blunt lyrics earned it a blanket ban from radio airplay and generated such scandal that the play was reworked to assign it from a white actress to a black one—such were the racial attitudes of the time. The song—as with all of Porter’s work—has been covered by many, many artists, but perhaps the most affecting is Billie Holiday’s rendition. Considered in relation to her own troubled history with prostitution and addiction, it takes on a powerful poignancy.
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