Sharp Notes Monday: ‘Summertime’

While our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project is on hiatus for the summer, we are sharing a song every Monday to start your week.

In any year, “Summertime” would be an appropriate pick for the start of August and the dog days of summer, but the song from the opera “Porgy and Bess” is especially timely this year.

That’s because “Summertime” was part of the set Joni Mitchell performed during her surprise appearance at the Newport Folk Festival last month.

Over the years, the song, written in 1934 by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, has been recorded by thousands of artists. In fact, Guinness World Records lists “Summertime” as the most recorded song ever with 67,591 recorded versions in existence as of June 2017. 

Because of the abundance of recordings, “Summertime’s” connection with “Porgy and Bess” is not always apparent to listeners. But that connection is an important one because of the opera’s powerful message.

As Mark Clague, editor-in-chief of the “George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition,” explained:

“For me, the opera Porgy and Bess is about resilience, about a community‚Äôs hope for a better future despite the cruel evidence of experience. Catfish Row amplifies the struggle of American society with racial injustice, poverty, sexism, addiction, sexual violence, natural disaster, murder, and the divisions of society into north and south, sacred and secular, black and white.”

Enjoy Joni Mitchell’s performance of “Summertime” at Newport.

Click here to learn more about our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project and view videos of our presentations.



Categories: Jandoli Institute, Music and Social Justice, Politics, Pop Culture, Sharp Notes Sharp Thoughts

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