The Most Recorded Women Songwriters

Music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Dorothy Fields

If you have not been reading my most recents posts this is the fourth consecutive on the topic of Women in Music, and more specifically relating to the world of Cover Songs. Today I have compiled a list of Women whose songs have capture the imagination of enough artists to record, over and over and over again. This list is different than the songs that were originally sung by women, or the list of Singer/Songwriters.

Todays list include all genre and if we look at them it is also different from the list of the most covered performers. As the singer of the songs, most often you are not the author of that song, but sometimes you may be. So, before I get to the list let me explain what I mean by that last statement.

These are the most covered performers of all time

At the top of the list is Judy Garland. She was not a Songwriter but her original song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has been recorded by 2015 other artists. “Over the Rainbow” has been recorded by 1541 artists. She has four more songs at over 100 artists as well as another 15 of her songs performed at least once.

Billie Holiday’s original song “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” has been recorded by 664 artists and she did not have a hand in writing that one. However a song she co-wrote “God Bless the Child” has 504. These songs and several others place her at #2 on the list. These (in order) are the next names on the list; Ethel Merman, Ethel Waters, Abbie Mitchell, Gertrude Lawrence, Mitzi Green, Emily Laurey, Doris Day and Adele, no not that one-Adele Astaire. The only artists in the top 20 to have written all or a majority of their original songs are, as noted Billie Holiday followed by Édith Piaf at #12, Joni Mitchell at #15 and Peggy Lee at #17. These last three names also appear on The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters.

Women Songwriters

Before I get to the list of the most recorded songwriters I think a little history is in order. While I tend not to include music outside the major genre, notable women composers and lyricists predate any of them. I have looked up “Women Composers” and found the top names such as Hildegard von Bingen who lived from 1098 to 1179 and is the first “identifiable” female songwriter. Francesca Caccini (1587-c1641) and Barbara Strozzi (1619-77). The only names I recognized on the list were Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47), Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-53) and Amy Beach (1867-1944) as I have referenced them before. Keeping in mind by saying composers these names also often wrote lyrics as well.

A name that is not on the list is Carrie Jacobs-Bond (born August 11, 1862, died December 28, 1946) who I have mentioned in a couple of my past posts. She was a prolific writer and known as quite a good singer, but primarily she is remembered for writing some 175 songs. “I Love You Truly” , “Perfect Day” and “Just Awearyin’ for You” are her most popular songs, she was a tireless worker composing her last song at age 84. In the days before recorded music, she sold over 25 million copies of her manuscript of “I Love You Truly” and reportedly made over one million dollars in royalty payments by 1910 at age 48. Why so much money? She was a very smart person, making sure she copyrighted all her songs in her own name and did not sell her songs to anyone. In the years that followed her initial success, Man or Women, she maintained a much more than usual control over who initially recorded her music as well.

For the past lists I have gone beyond for reference’s, the only problem with that is that there are very few dealing with women songwriters. The only credible source apart from was and this focus on one artist may or may not skew the numbers. I can’t find any comparable empirical data, even for Carole King’s songs. While I have not verified all the numbers from Joni’s site and can say that I have cross referenced many that don’t appear on the database. Today I have chosen to list the names in the order they appear on The numbers for Joni Mitchell are from their database only and therefore places her further down than you would see on my other lists.

Dorothy Fields45797337261
Carole King339418228082
Marilyn Bergman27778921463
Joni Mitchell246512617914
Cynthia Weil155513714525
Taylor Swift 14881804566
Betty Comden 14464713977
Carole Bayer Sager114610110708
Ellie Greenwich1052599799
Dolly Parton105113587110
Carolyn Leigh10513695010
Lil Armstrong9923572911
Billie Holiday98911100712
Diane Warren86819164714
Édith Piaf8171283815
Lady Gaga7897575416
Cindy Walker7786370517
Ann Ronell757690118
Consuelo Velázquez735682119
Linda McCartney7114654020

Some notable names to follow are Mariah Carey 708 covers, Felice Bryant 708 covers, Peggy Lee 695 covers and Katy Perry with 690 covers.

The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters

In my last post I gave you Joni Mitchell, who as a solo female singer/songwriter is the most recorded artist of all time. This is not a “Best of” numbers one through ten kind of list. Subjectively ‘the best’ can mean a lot of things, but I am focusing on cover songs. So, in total, whose songs have been recorded the most? Just a reminder a list of cover songs is not a list off all the songs that someone may have written, only those with documented re-recordings. Not surprisingly the list is dominated by contemporary popular music but I looked at all the major genres. I plan to recognize women solely as songwriters in another post and many different names will appear.

One might think that Carole King would be at the top of this list, but she is a bit of special project as her work lands into so many categories. As a composer of songs she and her lyricist (and for a time husband) Gerry Goffin were not only prolific but they wrote some of the most memorable tunes of a generation. She has also co-written songs with others and, she has composed the words and music for her own records. The aggregate total places her as the 9th most recorded writer of Pop music, you can find those stats on my post The 2023 Update of the Most Recorded Pop Songs of All time. So you will see her name appear more than once on my lists as I will attempt crunch the numbers as they say in order to find her placement on each of them. Here is a link for my post on Carole King.

When you read the list, just a reminder that these are only the songs they have written or co-written and recorded, not necessarily all the songs they have originally recorded-but were written by others. Those may have cover versions also. The most notable example would be Peggy Lee, she was the first to record “Golden Earrings” which has 174 versions and “Everybody Loves Somebody” has 142, but she did not have a song writing credit so they are not included in these totals. Édith Piaf was the first to record her very famous song “Non, je ne regrette rien” however it was written by Charles Dumont, Michel Vaucaire and there are 130 versions of this song.

Maybe on my next post I will give you a list for the most covered female performers, that’s a whole batch of different stats, songs and names. Conspicuous by their absence here on this particular list are women of colour. There are of course many that wrote songs, some great ones but I read the numbers and the data that is currently available. The total numbers of documented songs are how the names end up on this list. That is not to say it is absolute and therefore should be subject to some reflection at the very least.

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Joni Mitchell

This is the first clip to come up on a YouTube search of Joni Mitchell

You may have seen in the news lately that Joni Mitchell was honoured with The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from The Library of Congress. This award was first presented to Paul Simon in 2007, it is to recognize “the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture”. Mitchell is the 15th honouree. They haven’t updated the honoree profiles yet so I can’t tell you what The Library of Congress has to say about her, but as you may have guessed I have a few things for you on Joni Mitchell.

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The Most Covered Songs by Women

Let me say right off the start that I think it is unfortunate that I have to write a separate piece on the most covered songs. The music industry really forces our hand in this regard. If we are looking at how women are represented and in general poorly recognized, cover songs are a reflection of that in many ways. Without taking too much time you can see that women are on the short end of the drum stick when it comes to prominent songwriters. If the most celebrated names are male, then the most covered songs will come from this source. Now, I am a big Beatles fan and I like most of names you find on the cover lists that I create. However they are heavily skewed toward men. I do realize we have to look at the bias that brought us here in the first place, again I take nothing away from the obvious talents of the men at the top, but there are worthy women who don’t get the same exposure.

When I research cover songs, there are a number of ways to look at the data. As I always do, I’m relying on for the information. Following the format of my periodic update on Pop Cover Songs, if I work down the list of The most covered songs written by a ‘singer/songwriter/recording artist‘. Currently the only woman on the top 10 list is Carole King, who is currently at #8 with 182 of the songs that she wrote or co-wrote having at least one cover version. The next category is The most cover versions combined. Again the only women on the top 10 list is Carole King with 3,382 versions of songs she has written. The third major category is The top 20 most covered Pop singles. The only female songwriter on the top 20 list is co-writer Billie Holiday at #18 with her song “God Bless the Child” having been covered 501 times.

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Beatles Week – Ain’t She Sweet

Randy has been writing a blog about Cover Songs, music genres and artists since early 2018. He moved to WordPress in February of 2022 and has found a…

Beatles Week – Ain’t She Sweet

This is a guest piece from PowerPop a blog by Max who is hosting an extended Beatles week of favourites.

Randy has been writing a blog about Cover Songs, music genres and artists since early 2018. He moved to WordPress in February of 2022 and has found a welcome community of music enthusiasts. You can read about the origins of Rock and Roll, Blues, R&B and Country Music. There are Cover Song and Chart statistics as well, all with a focus on the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s at

The Beatles

When Max asked us to write about our favorite song, I’m sure the other writers have the same dilemma as most fans would, how do I pick just one? As I am a bit flummoxed on a choice, I’m “taking the easy way out”. Instead of a single song, and being a cover song guy, I am seizing this opportunity to speak about songs recorded by The Beatles in those early years that were not original songs. In other words, songs they covered by other Artists.

Before I get to that, I had assumed that all the ‘original’ songs they recorded, were written/credited to John and Paul or George or Ringo. However, the very first song they recorded for their debut single was written by someone else. Mitch Murray, who became a much acclaimed songwriter/performer/producer wrote a great little song that George Martin thought was perfect for The Beatles first single. It was called “How Do You Do It” and they recorded it on September 4, 1962. The Beatles members never really liked the song and made several changes, much to the chagrin of Mitch Murray. After some debate, Martin agreed with the boys who thought that “Love Me Do”, recorded during the same session was a better pick. It really was the boys first choice for the ‘A’ side all along, perhaps leading to what some describe as a “lack luster” effort on the recording.

How different would the story be if they had picked that song? If you recognized the title you may know that “How Do You Do It” was next recorded by Gerry and The Pacemakers. Released in March of 1963 it became a smash #1 hit in the UK and reached #9 on the Hot 100 in the US. Calling the Pacemakers version, a ‘cover’ is more of technical debate as The Beatles recording was never put on an album and, in deference to Gerry and The Pacemakers or as Paul McCartney once said due to “peer pressure” that’s why they never released it as a single. It first appears on The Beatles Anthology 1 in 1995.

The next thing I looked at, again with a focus on the early days, what were the very first cover songs they released? Setting aside things done/credited as The Quarrymen or with Tony Sheridan etc., there are 25 songs that appeared on various albums. Of which some are stand alone singles. Some of these songs I thought (and maybe some of you did as well) were Beatles originals. I was too young to comprehend much when The Beatles first released songs in North America/Canada. I always was a big fan, and I began taking a keen interest in cover songs in my twenties. The best example would be thinking for the longest time that “Twist and Shout” from their first album was an original song. You likely saw that Max just posted about it recently.

We all know that some of the Albums released outside of the UK came out on different labels, dates, with different titles, and often the track listing had changed as well. Also, the 45’s/singles differed in the same way. So, for my point of reference, and the standard usage, for the most part I will use the UK releases. For that I turned to The Beatles Bible website and

Please, Please Me was released March 22, 1963. It turns out all the covers (6) on that album were recorded on the same day, February 11, 1963. In addition to “Twist and Shout” (1961) by The Top Notes (Russell/Medley), the cover songs were “Anna (Go to Him)” written and first performed by Arthur Alexander (1962), “Chains” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, first released by The Cookies (October 1962), but it was first recorded by The Everly Brothers on July 11, 1962, but not released until 1984. “Boys” was written by Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell and sung by The Shirelles (1960), also by The Shirelles (1961) was “Baby It’s You” written by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon, and Mack David (Hal’s brother if you’re keeping score). Then we have “A Taste of Honey” written by Ric Marlow and Bobby Scott for the play of the same name. The first stage performance was by Billy Dee Williams in 1960, his vocal recording was released in December of 1961. Bobby Scott released the instrumental in October of 1960.

Those above songs are the first covers on their first album, but the first single cover version they released was (sort of) on Sincere Good Wishes for Christmas and the New Year on December 6, 1963. The songs were officially listed as “Good King Wenceslas” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. But they didn’t really sing the songs, however they had to credit the songs they referenced for copyright reasons while kibitzing with their fans. The disc contains spoken word messages of thanks from each of them and some goofing around as well. I think “Ricky, the Red Nosed Reindeer” was the spoof version they sang. It was sent to official Fan Club members as a thank you gift. So technically recorded as ‘cover songs’ but not much of the actual songs.

The first real single cover song that I could find where they credited it to just The Beatleswas “Ain’t She Sweet” released on the ‘A’ side of a 45 r.p.m. disc May 19, 1964, on Polydor Records. The label reads The Beatles, Vocals: John Lennon, Recorded in Hamburg 1961. The song was written by Milton Ager, Jack Yellen and first released in 1927 by Lou Gold with The Melody Man – Vocal Chorus by Murray Amster. The song was recorded some 60 times before The Beatles release and twice that since.

Why this song? It was popular at the time and had been recorded by several artists in the late 50’s and early 60’s such as Rockabilly legend Gene Vincent in 1957. Max and any other Beatles experts may correct me on the following… I know Vincent was once on the same bill as The Beatles when he was in Europe, a bit of speculation on my part but perhaps his rendition was the inspiration? I think more likely, there was a popular blues singer at that time in the UK, Duffy Power released the song in 1959 so that may have been it as well. Apparently, it was a regular song from their live sets in Hamburg, Germany. It was recorded there in 1961 when Pete Best was the drummer. So, not the final Fab Four. This version appears on Anthology 1 but is credited as The Beat Brothers. By the time it was put out in 1964 of course Ringo was the drummer, they would re-record the song in 1969 and it appears on Anthology 3.

Beatles - Aint She Sweet

On the ‘B’ side of the single and listed as “Take Out Some Insurance on Me, Baby” (1959) written by Charles Singleton and Wally Hall. It was not the only song by Jimmy Reed that The Beatles would sing but I believe the only one recorded. This was also in Hamburg in 1961. The label on the ‘B’ side reads The Beatles with Tony Sheridan.

The first cover version as single released with Ringo on the skins (I believe) was “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”. Originally written and performed by Larry Williams in 1958. This song was released as the ‘A’ side of a 45 r.p.m. disc in 1965 on Parlophone Records. On the ‘B’ side was “Bad Boy” but apparently in some markets the B side was a song you may have heard of called “Yesterday”. The song appears on the 1965 album Help! and Live at the BBC.