“God Bless The Child”
When I write about cover songs, I like to look and talk about numbers. As we all know there are many ways to look at statistics. My major source is Secondhandsongs.com. For example there are categories such as the most covered songs by title, there is the most covered singer songwriters and the most covered authors (lyricists and composers). There is also a category for the most covered performers, which does not take into account who wrote the song, just who sang it. As many of these lists are, it is dominated by male performers, The Beatles being at the top. The first female is Judy Garland at #11 and the next is Billie Holiday at #23.
As an author of songs Billie may not rank as high on the lists but for writing her own songs Holliday is best known for “God Bless the Child” (co-written with her oft collaborator Arthur Herzog Jr.) from 1939, first recorded in 1941. There are over 500 versions of this remarkable song. In her autobiography Billie said the inspiration for the song came from an argument with her mother over money. Billie had said to her “God Bless the Child that got his own”. The lyrics start with a reference to the Book of Matthew from the New Testament. She took the draft lyrics to Arthur Herzog and they fleshed out the rest of the song.
Cover by Dee Dee Bridgewater (2010).