The perfect time to celebrate the most covered song

Songwriter George Gershwin (1898 - 1937) at a piano. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

By Gail Reynolds, Columnist

Reynolds Rap

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.

Summertime Cover

Gail Reynolds