Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

My Summertime

I think that George Gershwin’s “Summertime” is the most beautiful music in the world. I always sing it to myself and have done so for decades.

But it is only today that I have discovered that the lyrics of the song are not “Oh, Your mamma’s rich / And your daddy’s good lookin'”, as I always thought without ever analyzing it.

Speaking of  a Freudian mistake.


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7 thoughts on “My Summertime

  1. I realize this will probably be an unpopular view, but, as arias and standards go, I always thought Summertime was rather meh.


  2. It’s actually pretty great (though largely misunderstood).

    Within the opera itself it mostly functions as an expression of longing for what one dosn’t have and is juxtaposed against the harsh realities of life on catfish row.

    It’s fist sung by Clara in counterpoint to the men losing their money playing craps,

    Clara sings it later during a storm in which the baby’s father (and then she herself) dies

    After Bess begins caring for the child she sings it as a counterpoint to Porgy’s killing Crown.

    It’s final appearance is by Serena (the child’s second surrogate mother after Bess has gone back to a life or drugs and dissolution). Here’s the lullaby is almost a cruel joke, a pretty lie told to a child who has not (and probably won’t) ever know the idyllic existence the song promises.


  3. Jonathan Mayhew on said:

    How many jazz singers does it take sing “Summertime”?

    All of them.


  4. Jonathan Mayhew on said:

    But seriously, it is a great song.


  5. I love this song, it’s one of my favorite Gershwin songs along with Lady Be Good. And these are the versions I heard first when I was growing up:


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