By Gail Reynolds, Columnist
This is an appropriate time of year to celebrate the most covered song ever, as documented in a 2011 BBC special, George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” This 1934 gem is, of course, from Porgy and Bess, with its libretto written by DeBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin.
Because it originates from an opera, “Summertime” is accurately described as an aria. Yet, it is so much more. Or perhaps “less” would be the better word in that it does not necessarily require a classically trained voice. Its structure lends itself to blues and jazz, as exemplified by Billie Holiday’s and Janis Joplin’s enduring renditions. And there was the 1965 pop rock hit by the UK group The Zombies.
Play it on your piano, guitar, ukulele, kazoo or iPhone. Search on YouTube or VIMEO randomly to see what artists and genre come up.
REM? Here you go:
The Doors? Viola!
Give a listen to Doc and Merle Watson.
Ska? Several versions are there.
And check out Janis.
Ella Fitzgerald’s version before a German audience highlights the poignancy of the song:
Celebrate “Summertime” in your own way, but do celebrate this American treasure.
I love music and I love to write, so Rock at Night is a perfect forum for me.I appreciate all genres from classical to country and am astounded by the number of extraordinarily talented but under-recognizedmusical artists. So my articles often feature such “well known unknown” musicians and composers.
Before email, I would include a record review along with my holiday greetings as an alternative to annual reports of personal achievements and acquisitions. Among these, I wrote of Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man in 1988 and Bruce Cockburn’s Nothing But A Burning Light in 1991, urging my friends and family to listen to these masterpieces.
Now I can continue to express my enthusiasm for various musical artists to a wider audience.
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