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This composition was originally recorded as (1) Inspiration in the spring of 1949 It was later recorded in rearrangements with different titles: (2) God's Portrait (recorded September 1949 but not released), (3) Make Believe (recorded 1952 with lyrics), (4) Portrait (recorded 1952 [with lyrics], 1962, 1966 [in documentary], 1971, and 1972 [with lyrics]), and (5) Old Portrait (recorded 1963 [on solo piano] and 1965). Nat Hentoff also reports that Mingus changed the title from ‘God's Portrait’ to ‘Self Portrait’ and then to simply ‘Portrait’. (Although apparently the ‘Self Portrait’ title does not appear on any album.) Hentoff says that Mingus composed the song on a train during the depression following his first divorce. The passing landscape seen from the train made him think about a person that loves nature but cannot love people and that he was this kind of person. (Also note that there are three different Mingus compositions with the same name ‘Make Believe’. Only the ‘Make Believe’ recorded in 1949 is the same as ‘Inspiration’/‘God's Portrait’/‘Self Portrait’/‘Portrait’/‘Old Portrait’. The other ‘Make Believe’ compositions were recorded in 1946 and 1952.)

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