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This was used in the Folk Opera Porgy & Bess, which started as a 1924 novel by DuBose Heyward called Porgy. The novel is about a black community in South Carolina, and George Gershwin thought it would make a great stage production. Along with his brother Ira, Gershwin collaborated with Heyward and brought the novel to the stage in 1935. This is the most famous song from the musical and appears 4 times in the production, most notably as a lullaby to help put a baby to sleep. The lullaby style became very popular and many children grew up hearing this song from their parents.
Heyward wrote the lyrics and the Gershwins are credited for the music. The Gershwins wrote several plays together and wrote many popular songs, including "I Got Rhythm," "The Man I Love," "Someone to Watch Over Me and "They Can't Take That Away from Me."
Porgy & Bess had a test run in Boston and had a disappointing stint in New York in 1935. It was performed in Russia in 1955 and made into a movie in 1959 starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr. and Diahann Carroll, who performed the song. After the movie came out, the Opera became much more popular and it continues to be performed as a stage production. George Gershwin didn't get to see his play become a big success - he died in 1937.
This is one of the most covered songs in history, with well over 2000 official recordings. Janis Joplin's Blues-Rock version with Big Brother & the Holding Company is probably the best known, but other notable covers were recorded by Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Ricky Nelson, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra. Fantasia from American Idol performed it twice on the show when she won in 2004, which introduced the song to a new audience.
Sublime's 1996 song "Doin' Time
" is based on this.
Porgy & Bess produced other blues hits such as "Aint Necessarily So" and "Someone to Watch Over Me." (thanks, Chris - Philadelphia, PA)
Joplin performed this at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
This was the last song Joplin sang in concert - it was the last song in her set at her last show on August 12, 1970 at Harvard. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This was the first song The Beatles played with Ringo Starr. On October 15, 1960, they recorded at the Akustik Recording Studio, 57 Kirchenallee, Hamburg Germany. The place was an absolute shambles, at the back of a railway station. The main vocalist was Wally Eymond, aka Lou "Wally" Walters, who was guitarist for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Beatles drummer Pete Best wasn't there, so Eymond's bandmate Ringo Starr played. This was only a day or so after Stu Sutcliffe was brutally beaten, so he wasn't involved, although it's possible he was in attendance; Johnny Guitar and Ty Brian were also at the recording as observers only. They also recorded "September Song" and "Fever." Nine copies of the record were pressed. "Summertime" was the A side with "Fever" on the B side.
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.
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Songs Discussed in Movies
, Reservoir Dogs
, Willy Wonka
. Just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.