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.

The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#16-20)

16. “Wichita Lineman” (1968) is the second song on this list written by Jimmy Webb (By the Time I Get to Phoenix). Much of the credit goes to the strength of the Glen Campbell recordings. This should tell you a lot about the talent of these two individuals. After the success of Campbell’s cover of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” in 1967 he wanted Webb to write him a similar song, one with the same type of time and place reference. A simple enough task if you are as talented as Jimmy Webb, so based on a drive he took through rural Oklahoma where he saw the solitary workers on utility poles he created this amazing and evocative story. It was missing just a couple things when he sent it to Campbell who then worked his guitar magic, plus some creative contributions from his producer/arranger Al De Lory. Throw in some more great guitar from fellow Wrecking Crew member Carol Kaye and you end up with this remarkable song. In 1968 it charted #1 on the Country chart and US Adult Contemporary in the US, #1 on two charts in Canada as well. It hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song won Record of the Year at the Grammys in 1968 and Campbell won Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male. I find it a bit odd the song didn’t win at the Country Music Association Awards or Academy of Country Music awards but Campbell did win Male Vocalist at both and shared Best Album for Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell at the latter. I really should get around to dedicating a post to Jimmy Webb, he has had at least 10 songs hit the Billboard Top 10 charts. There are at least 301 versions of this song.

17. “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955) is a song written and performed by Johnny Cash. He is another with two songs on the Top 20 list. However, Johnny can’t take full credit for the creation of this now legendary song. He borrows heavily in fact from a song in “The Conductor” on the album Seven Dreams written by Gordon Jenkins. The train themed album contains a song within a song titled “Crescent City Blues” and sung by Jenkins wife, Beverly Mahr. If you give it a listen it draws a bit of a shocking comparison. In turn the melody of the song was taken by Jenkins from an instrumental song, coincidentally titled “Crescent City Blues” written in the 1930’s by the New Orleans/Chicago Blues artist known as Little Brother Montgomery. Cash heard Beverly Mahr on a record while in Germany when he was with the US Air Force, this was in 1951, before he became a recording artist. Cash had wanted Jenkins acknowledged on the song credits for the 1955 song but was assured by Sam Phillips there were no issues. Jenkins would later sue and Johnny paid him $75.000 dollars, presumably in Cash.

Regardless of the journey it is one special performance by Johnny Cash and one of the greatest songs in Music. Most well known for the live recording from Folsom Prison, and the album At Folsom from 1968. The original charted #4 in 1956 on the Billboard Country chart, as well as #4 and #5 on the the Pop charts. The live version hit #1 in both Canada and the US on the Country Chart. The song, including instrumentals and vocals in six languages has 300 versions.

18. “Wabash Cannonball” here we have another train song and the journey is no less circuitous in nature. It has been traced back to story’s of train riding hobos in the mid 1800’s. In 1882 J.A. Rolf published a song named “The Great Rock Island Route!!”. Then in 1904 William Kindt published an instrumental song “Wabash Cannonball” using the same melody and we don’t really know who wrote the revised lyrics. This has strong roots as an American Folk song and as many were, it was adopted by the Country genre. A.P. Carter of the legendary family had registered the song as his own when they recorded it 1932, but he did not write it. Before the Carter Family recorded the song it was first done by a popular Country Singer and Radio Host, Hugh Cross in 1929. The third time’s the charm as is often said so when Roy Acuff and His Crazy Tennesseans (vocals by Sam “Dynamite” Hatcher) released it in 1938 it became one of the biggest selling records of all time reaching the 10 million copies mark. You can hear many live performances where Roy Acuff himself is singing but to the best of my knowledge he never recorded the song in his own voice. Roy Acuff Jr. released a version in 1965.

To say that everybody in Country Music has done this song, which including adaptations now has 283 documented versions, is not overstating things. I mean there are five Hanks alone, Williams Jr. , Snow, Thompson, Lochlin and Smith! We also have Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Bill Monroe, even The Secret Sisters did it in 2010 but don’t tell anyone you heard it from me. Folk legend Pete Seeger did it, Woody Guthrie adapted the tune for his song “Grand Coulee Dam” as did Chuck Berry for “Promised Land”. Not surprising that a song about trains is so well traveled. Stay with me folks I have more puns in the caboose!

19. “Oh Lonesome Me” was written by Don Gibson, yet another name to appear twice in the Top 20 as his “I Can’t Stop Loving You” placed #5. Both songs were released at the same time (December 1957) and “Oh Lonesome Me” was the ‘A’ side of the single and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” the ‘B’ side. with backing vocals by The Jordanaires. However it was the ‘A’ side that hit #1 on the Country Chart and #7 on the Pop chart. Ray Charles as he did with “I Can’t Stop Loving You” would record “Oh Lonesome Me” and another Gibson song “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles”. The Kentucky Headhunters would hit #8 on the Hot 100 Country chart with “Oh Lonesome Me”.

If you look up unrequited love in the dictionary you would find this forlorn tune that is a Country Standard and another song that has been covered by just about everyone in Country Music, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Anne Murray and Tanya Tucker to name just a few. Outside of Country there are renditions by Paul Anka, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby and Connie Stevens. Currently there are 281 versions of this song.

20. “Me and Bobby McGee” was written by Kris Kristofferson with a credit given to Fred Foster as his suggestion led to the writing of the song. Kristofferson is another person to have two songs on this list. The first of many Country chart appearances was the 1969 original by Roger Miller, reaching #3 in Canada and #12 in the US, Gordon Lightfoot hit #1 in Canada and #7 on the Pop chart and Jerry Lee Lewis with his 1971 release charted #1 and #40 on the Hot 100. There are currently 279 versions of this song, including Kristofferson himself in 1970, one of thirteen to be released that year. So it was a popular song. If you think that sounds like a lot there were 27 versions released in 1971. While most covers of the song are done in the County style or maybe a little more on the Folk side. The most memorable rendition of the song was the first of that stream of covers in 1971, and it was neither Country or Folk.

Janis Joplin recorded “Me and Bobby McGee” during the sessions for the 10 track album that was later named Pearl, which was her nickname. Janis would die from a drug overdose just three days after these recordings, October 4, 1970. The album and the single of this song were released in January of 1971. Both the song and the album would hit #1 on Billboard, it was her only top 40 song. The memorable and original song “Mercedes Benz” was also on the album but it did not chart. If you have heard the song you know that what she did with it was exceptional. It’s done with a breath of Country and quickly steps into an uptempo Blues song. If you have not listened you are missing out, click that link!

That’s the list, it was quite remarkable that so many names appear more than once. Hank Williams, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Don Gibson, Johnny Cash and once as a writer and once as a key performer we have Willie Nelson. However it is quite the contrast to the list for Pop Songs, where The Beatles dominate.

What is glaringly missing from both of these lists (Pop and Country) with 20 songs combined are ones written and or originally recorded by Women. I have to acknowledge Hedy West and her song “500 Miles’ that contributed to getting “I’m Nine Hundred Miles From Home” to #7. On the Pop Top 20 Songs we have only one entry by a women with Billie Holiday for “God Bless the Child”. However, in order to feature more of those amazing songs from women I have to work quite a ways down the lists. The first I came across for Country artists was (not surprisingly) Dolly Parton with a song covered 249 times, which by any standard is an impressive number.

I’m working on a post that will feature the most covered songs either written and or originally recorded by women. Here is a teaser from that post and the obvious answer as to which Dolly Parton song tops the list.

“I Will Always Love You” was written by Parton and released as a single in March of 1974, as most will know it hit #1 on the Country Chart that year and a re-recording hit #1 again in 1982. In 1995 her duet with Vince Gill charted at #15. To my knowledge no other song has achieved this before or since. If that was not enough there are likely very few people on the planet over 35 years of age that don’t know Whitney Houston’s 1992 version for the movie The Bodyguard. It was a worldwide smash #1 hit song making it the only song to hit #1 on a Billboard chart three separate times. Whitney’s version became one of the few songs to re-enter the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 as after her passing in 2012 the song would peak at #3. This makes the song the only one to have not only the three #1 Billboard appearances but if you add her #53 showing on the Hot 100 for her 1982 version that is a total of six chart appearances, three on the Country and two on the Pop chart.

The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#11-15)

11. “Ring of Fire” was first recorded by Anita Carter and was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore. Recorded in late 1962 it appeared on Anita Carter Sings Folk Songs Old and New that came out in December. It was released as a single early in 1963. The original title is “(Love’s) Ring of Fire”, and I think it should be noted that Anita was a bona fide recording artist with several charted songs, outside of her work with the Legendary Carter Family.  Johnny’s ex-wife Vivian had stated that it was Johnny that wrote the song and gave songwriting credit to June and allowed Anita to record it first. June Carter however had a completely different story and provides a solid background as to how she came up with the song.

Johnny held back on releasing the song until it was clear Anita’s effort was not going to be a hit and in fact it did not chart at all. Cash had a dream about adding what he referred to as “Mexican style trumpets” to the music. Johnny Cash (link with lyrics) recorded it April 19, 1963 and it went to #1 on the Hot 100 Country singles chart for the week ending July 27 and stayed there for seven weeks. It also reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Classic Cash with a dynamic take on the song. There are currently 325 versions of this song. To my knowledge the only Country version to chart was Alan Jackson at #45 in 2010. Eric Burdon and The Animals charted in Europe, South Africa and Australia in 1969. Personally I’m partial to Dwight Yoakam’s take that originally appeared on an EP in 1984 but was a key part of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. reaching #1 on the Country Album chart in 1986. This song is still recorded a few times every year and it is in nine different languages, there are a few dozen instrumentals as well.

12. “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver of course, it was co-written with Bill Danoff (Afternoon Delight) and his wife and fellow member of the Starland Vocal Band, Taffy Nivert. In truth Danoff was the one who came up with the core lyrics, based on his own personal experiences. Released as a single in May 1971 it would peak at #1 on Cashbox and #2 on Billboard in the US and #5 on the UK singles chart. Denver was a burgeoning Folk artist and the song was received as more of a Folk Pop song as it only reached #50 on the Country Hot 100. However, with the very first covers by Superstars Loretta Lynn and Lynn Anderson, other Country stars would follow such as Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Statler Brothers, The Carter Family, The Mercey Brothers and Skeeter Davis all within two years of the original. It is one of many songs that straddle genres. I think if you asked most people they would say its a Country Song, and the vast majority of artists doing it are from the Country genre.

There 330 versions of the song and it was covered nine times in the first year. In 1972 Olivia Newton John (a hit in the UK in 1973) did her version, one of 23 recorded that year. Rarely have I seen that many renditions of a song done in one year. No song of course is in the stratosphere of “Yesterday” that clocked 64 versions in 1966. As noted above, joining John in 1972 were Ray Charles (who did many Country songs), Toots and the Maytals did a modified Reggae take on the song and Felicia from Hong Kong had a version on her album of cover songs. The original song title was actually Rhododendron which is the State flower of West Virginia, where it is one of four official State songs.

13. “Green, Green Grass of Home” was written by the brilliant Curly Putnam. If you don’t know the name, he was the inspiration for the Paul McCartney song “Junior’s Farm” after he and Linda wrote it during a stay at his farm in Tennessee in 1974. Putnam has written or co-written too many songs to list but some of the more notable are; “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” a huge hit for Tammy Wynette and he wrote one for her (sometimes) husband George Jones “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, as well as hits for Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Tanya Tucker. There are currently 327 versions.

It was done very well when originally recorded by Country singer Johnny Darrell in 1965 and first covered by one of the biggest stars of that time, Porter Wagoner. However it was the next version by Jerry Lee Lewis that inspired Tom Jones to record it becoming a smash hit reaching #1 in the UK, Ireland, Norway and Australia and #11 in the US.

14. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is the third Hank Williams song on this Top 20 list and his second most recorded song with 303 versions. Hank recorded it in late 1952 and it was released as a single on the ‘B’ side to “Kaw-Liga”. Hank Williams died at age 29 on January 1, 1953. Both songs were released shortly after his death, they would be his 8th and 9th #1 songs. Williams, just before his death had been wracked with pain following a failed operation to correct his spina bifida. This only fueled his drinking and after being prescribed morphine for his pain he now developed a drug addiction. All this and more was combined with his recent divorce from Audrey Sheppard, so he poured out all his hurt in the words of the song.

This, like so many of his songs paints a vivid picture and so many are autobiographical in nature, representing the struggles he had with pain, addiction, loneliness, love and loss. It is little wonder that he is the most covered Country Artist of all time and on the top 10 list of most covered singer/songwriters. When we look at the list of covers for this song we once again find Ray Charles who if you recall took Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” to #1 from his 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music where he also did Williams songs. Charles version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” went to #23 on the R&B and #29 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the UK charts that same year, this was from his follow-up album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume 2. The song also charted twice in 1953 on the Billboard Most Played in Jukeboxes with renditions by Joni James #2 and Frankie Lane at #18.

15. “San Antonio Rose” is a song by the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills. An instrumental, it was first released in 1938 as Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Wills, with the help of the band would write lyrics for this very popular song and it came out in 1940 and was titled “New San Antonio Rose”. It was his signature song for the rest of his career. Combined there are 298 versions of this song in several languages as well. There was only one cover of the instrumental original by Cliff Bruner and His Boys in 1939 and it would not be done again until 1951 when it was recorded seven times and dozens more since then. Every self respecting Square Dancer and Two-stepping Texan knows how to twirl to this classic.

It is the one with the lyrics “New San Antonio Rose” that is the more popular and it was done by Bing Crosby, released in January of 1941. This was a big deal as most of Country Music at this time, particularly songs from Wills was labeled as Hillbilly Music and not fit for popular consumption. There is a well known rendition by Patsy Cline with the Jordanaires from 1961. Bob Wills was not one that conformed to any standards except his own, and he and his band caused a great bit of upset when they performed this song live on the Grand ole Opry in 1944 and used the instrument called the drums. It is true that drums were banned on the Opry stage. While the song may not be recorded every year there are recent versions by LeAnn Rimes in 2019 and Australian singer Sharon Heaslip in 2020. Give the song a listen, just about anything by Bob Wills will if not move your feet it will lift your spirit.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#6-10)

6. “Riders in the Sky” was written by Stan Jones. He had a Masters Degree in Zoology and was working as a Park guide in Death Valley in 1948. Based on a Native American story, in his own words he put it to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” but in a different tempo. He sang it as a campfire song for some Hollywood Scouts looking for film shooting locations, this led to a career in the movie business. First as a technical adviser and later composing music for John Ford in his movies like The Searchers and Rio Grande. Jones did the Rodeo circuit in his younger days so writing a Cowboy Song came naturally. Jones recorded it himself in 1948 but it was not released until later in 1949. So the first released version, recorded later in 1948 was by Bob Geddins, who was actually an R&B singer/songwriter as well as the founder of several independent record labels. Geddins was a pretty versatile singer so he did the song in what might be described as a Country Blues style and it was titled “Ghost Riders”. The first cover was by Burl Ives, he was another singer with songs in a range of genre. The third time was the charm as Vaughn Munroe‘s 1949 version became a hit song. It was now titled “Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)”. It was later recorded by Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Gene Autry and other well known artists all in that same year for a total of thirteen recordings in 1949 alone. Under several different titles but most often as “Ghost Riders In the Sky” the song now has 356 versions.

7. “Always on My Mind” was written by Johnny Christopher, Wayne Carson, Mark James and the first recording was by Brenda Lee in 1971 but her June release was trumped by Gwen McCrae’s that came out in March. The third release of the song was by Elvis Presley, it reached #16 on Billboards Country chart. There are currently 353 versions of this song but none of them has done any better than Willie Nelson’s 1982 released that went to #1 on the Country chart in Canada and the US as well as #5 on the Hot 100. He would win a Grammy Award and so would the Song and the Songwriters. It also won CMA awards in both 1982 and 1983. “Always on My Mind” would be a huge hit for The Pet Shop Boys in 1987, hitting #1 on at least seven International charts including the UK and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

8. “I’m Nine Hundred Miles from Home” is a traditional song first recorded by the legendary Fiddlin’ John Carson in 1924. The song was not recorded again until 1942 when Wade Mainer and Sons of the Mountaineers did and titled it “Old Ruben” this is one of the several alternate names of the song. It is also know in the Bluegrass world as “Train 45”. All variations also have many instrumental versions and it was adapted by Hedy West when she wrote “500 Miles”, which was first released by The Journeymen in 1961. That version has more of Folk feel to it, however there is another popular adaptation that Country star Bobby Bare did in 1963 titled “500 Miles Away from Home“. Staying true to the original melody, folky versions all tolled this song has 353 versions. In case you were curious, The Proclaimers song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) is not related to this song but perhaps the Hedy West “500 Miles” may have inspired the number.

9. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was written by one of the more evocative Songwriters I have ever heard or seen. Jimmy Webb is also the author of “MacArthur Park”, “Galveston”, “Up, Up and Away” and another very big hit to be mentioned later. The song was first recorded by Johnny Rivers who at that time had already posted many top ten hits, however it was not released as a single and only appeared on his 1966 album Changes. This opened the door for Glen Campbell and the best known version with his single which hit #1 in Canada and #2 on the US Country charts. In 1967 he took home three Grammy Awards for this song, this on the same day he earned two for “Gentle on My Mind”. Coincidently Glen Campbell also covered Bobby Bare’s “500 Miles Away from Home” and the #3 song in the previous post “Help Me Make It Through the Night”. Currently there are 351 documented version of this song. There are a large number of instrumentals of this song, and the first one was by the great pianist Floyd Cramer.

10. “I’m So Lonesome” was written by Hank Williams. He charted eight songs in 1949 but this was not one of them. It was the ‘B’ side to “My Bucket’s Got s Hole in it” which peaked at #2. Based on the popularity of a cover by B.J. Thomas that reached #8 on The Hot 100, Williams original was re-released in 1966 and reached #43. As we know many of the most iconic and most covered song were never hits when first released. Hank poured his heart out when he performed this poignant and beautifully sad song. It’s not a surprise to me that it ranks so highly on the list. This woeful tear jerker set the standard for heartbreaking songs. It was first covered by The Jordanaires as The Foggy River Boys in 1950, but not again until Marty Robbins in 1957. Using their usual name this time The Jordanaires were the first of 14 versions in 1966. The song currently has 335 versions in nine languages.

Some other notable covers include; Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Tanya Tucker, The Cowboys Junkies and more recently Sara Evans featuring Old Crow Medicine Show in 2020. Terry Bradshaw (yes the Steelers Quarterback) covered it in 1976 and went to #17 on the Country Singles Chart.

Numbers 11-15 to follow soon, Thanks for reading.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#1-5)

When I posted about the most covered pop songs and artists of all time, other than the unavoidable Hank Williams, there are not any other names from Country Music. This is understandable as the Pop music category is so broad, meaning that any specific type of music would not stand out on it’s own. For this list I went to my source of to see what was up if I just focused my research on the one genre. Now I did not skip over any Country Songs on my prior post so I know I’m going to be well outside of the top 100 most covered songs. As with the previous lists, these numbers exclude Christmas songs. Because songs get adapted, by that I mean perhaps the words get changed in a substantial way or it was originally in French but was translated to English, the line for credits and covers is not always so straight.

However, I have found that most adaptations come by way of copying the melody of another song, this is where we see two avenues; one is taking the melody from a foreign language tune and putting new words to it, the second being melodies from older English language songs. Many times the author is unknown, which makes reusing the tune a lot easier, at least from a copyright standpoint. Here we use the word ‘Traditional’ in a more technical context to refer to these songs. Basically we are talking about old tunes updated with new lyrics. I gave the example in the Pop songs post of “Aura Lee” being adapted to make “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley.

If you thought that controversy over song credits and the use of a melody or words is something new to music than you might want to reconsider your outlook as you read on. Right off the bat we have an adaptation, followed by a song credit mystery, and more surprises. Thanks again to who make it easier for me to connect these songs to their origins. It does not make for a clean list of Song Title/Artist/Writers all of the time but if credit is due I hope to make sure I mention it.

Read more: The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#1-5)

The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#1-5)

At #1 is “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” written and first performed by Hank Williams (and his Drifting Cowboys). Recorded in June and then released in July of 1952. The melody for this song was adapted from a Cajun song recorded as “Gran’ Texas”, which itself was also adapted from a Traditional refrain. That one was first released by Chuck Guillory and His Rhythm Boys in 1948. That’s were the Wikipedia reference ends. However, while it is true that “Jambalaya” is based on that Traditional Cajun melody, there is an earlier, nearly identical recording from 1940 titled “Gran Prairie“. Both of theses songs were recorded in Cajun French. The latter was first recorded by Happy Fats and His Rayne-Bo Ramblers. Happy Fats real name was Leroy Leblanc and he is accompanied on the fiddle by another Cajun Music pioneer named Harry Choates. Know as “the Father of Cajun Music”, Choates is well known for his adaption of ” Jolé Blon”. There is little doubt this song was familiar to Hank Williams but it is when he heard these traditional songs and talk about Cajun food while on the Hadacol Caravan music tour in Southern Louisiana in 1950 that the inspiration came for his song. We will avoid that rabbit hole but long story short it was very likely written with the help of fellow recording artist Moon Mullican who may have been paid directly so his name could be kept off the song credits and hence the publishing rights. Mullican was the first artist to ‘cover’ “Jambalaya” and released it just a week after Williams. Still a popularly performed Cajun song, there are currently only six documented renditions of “Gran Prairie” bringing it to a gran’ total 476 versions, making “Jambalaya” the 174th most covered song of all time and the most covered Country Song.

At #2 is “You are My Sunshine“, first recorded by The Pine Ridge Boys in August and then released in October of 1939. The song publishing credits (copyright date is January 30, 1940) and perhaps incorrectly (many believe) also the writing credit now belongs to Jimmie Davis, the one time Governor of Louisiana. However, it is believed that Davis did not write the song. He actually purchased the song. Among the several theories is that it was originally written by either Paul Rice (Rice Brothers Gang) as he claimed in 1937, yet he was the second to record it. Perhaps it was Oliver Hood who some say performed it as early as 1934. It seems the song was around a long time before Davis who was indeed a bona fide nationally known singer and songwriter claimed to have composed it. There is not an adequate paper trail and no one alive seems to know for sure, but it appears that Rice sold the song to Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell for $35 and since then they would have made millions off the song publishing rights. In Davis’s defence he did write some pretty great songs such as “Nobody’s Darlin’ but Mine” and others that have been collectively covered into the hundreds of times. There are currently 446 versions of this Louisiana State song including about 100 instrumentals. This is a beautiful little lullaby and most everyone knows at least some of the words. This 2016 Youtube video from Jasmine Thompson has over 34 million views. The vocal version of the song continues to be recorded at least once almost every year.

At #3 is “Help Me Make it Through the Night” which was written by Kris Kristofferson and recorded in October of 1969. It appeared on his 1970 eponymous album Kristofferson. However the most well known and successful version is by Sammi Smith, also released in 1970 but it was actually the third cover, preceded by Percy Sledge and Ray Price. Smiths version hit #1 on the US and Canadian Country chart and it went to #8 on the Hot 100. Willie Nelson covered this on his 1972 album The Willie Way but it was a re-recording from a Kristofferson tribute album in 1980 that reached #4 on the US Country chart and #1 in Canada. There are 426 versions of this song. The names that have recorded this song is impressive to say the least, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, LeAnn Rimes, Tom Jones, Tina Turner and so many more big names. Perhaps inspired by the two #1 chart appearances, Canadian artists Anne Murray, Bryan Adams and Michael Bublé have covered the song as well. Even my next door neighbour recorded his song. Wait, what? Yes it is true my neighbour and one of the nicest guys you will even meet is the six time Juno Award winning Larry Mercey. Before embarking on a successful solo career and still going strong I might add, he was the lead writer and singer for The Mercey Brothers. The song appears on their 1972 album Mercey Brothers Country.

4. “Crazy” was of course written by Willie Nelson, whose name appears in several spots on this Top 20 feature. Nelson wrote the song at least three years before it found its way to Patsy Cline who’s original recording hit #2 on the Country chart in 1961. Cline actually disliked the song and did not want to record it (or any Nelson song for that matter) but over time and with encouragement from her husband, her manager and Hank Cochran she agreed to try it. Willie Nelson was actually waiting in the car while Hank was inside try to convince her and was called into Patsy’s home to help teach her the very difficult to sing song. It was a crossover hit reaching #9 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Easy Listening chart. It was her most successful song and in addition to becoming an Americana Standard, it is widely regarded as one of best songs of all time (#195 Rolling Stone Magazine 2021) and ranked on the 100 Greatest Country Songs by The Tennessean. Willie’s would be the first cover of the now 382 versions of the song when he recorded it in 1962.

5. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was written by Don Gibson in 1957 and he released it in December of that same year. While Wiki reports 700 versions of this song I am working with which has 354 verified versions. Many of these songs may conflict with other reported numbers. While Don Gibson is not stranger to having hits with many #1’s and dozens and dozens more top 10’s and top 40’s, however the song is more well known by the cover by Ray Charles. It was smash worldwide hit going to #1 on The Hot 100, R&B and Easy Listening charts in the US and #1 in the UK, Sweden, Finland and Australia.

I will be posting the next five songs in the coming days.

References: 1, 2, 3

The 2023 Update of the Most Covered Pop Songs and Artists of All Time

Live recording from in 1965 in New York City

This has become my most popular post since I started blogging over four years ago. In order to keep in sync with internet searches, particularly from Google I will be updating the stats twice per year. My apologies to my subscribers, there may not be a lot of new information for you since my last post, however people searching for the most covered songs and adding the year ie. 2022 puts my blog at the top of the first page. I have not found another website that tracks cover songs in the same amount of detail, categorization and comparison from year to year. Perhaps because this information and the initial post took days of research!

As I did last fall I have added some streaming numbers to this issue and increased the most covered singles list to 20 songs. I have three categories in today’s blog: 1. The most covered songs (by title) written by a single artist, 2. The most cover versions combined and 3. The most covered Pop songs.  These numbers are for artists that write and record their own songs. For more on those known primarily as songwriters, read my series I Write the Songs.

The statistics I use come courtesy of and are verified via strict protocols. This website posts ‘covers’ submitted from around the globe and in many different languages, edited by very knowledgeable experts in music recording. There are other resources as cited but other than the odd personal anecdote or opinion, I’m using information and knowledge, not to mention YouTube posts that already exist. In addition, the numbers change daily, I had originally written this blog in December 2019 so it’s been interesting to see the changes over the four years. On the whole, the major artists in each list mostly stayed the same but may have shuffled positions. Keeping in mind the people on these lists are among the most important and iconic Singer-Songwriters of all time and recognized around the world. Having said that I certainly acknowledge there are many legendary international artists not included as the focus here for the most part is on Western and English speaking artists.  The information in this blog is from statistics collected on or around February 2, 2023.

The most covered songs written by a single recording artist

Here are the Top 10 Artists with the most individual song titles (that they have authored) which have been covered by other artists: Listed as 2021/2023

  1. Bob Dylan: 352/357 songs
  2. Paul McCartney: 331/341 songs
  3. John Lennon: 244/270 songs
  4. David Bowie: 220/220 songs
  5. Frank Zappa: 208/210 songs
  6. Tom Waits: 196/199 songs
  7. Bruce Springsteen: 186/194 songs
    8a. Keith Richards: 186/188 songs
    8b. Mick Jagger: 186/188 songs
  8. Carole King: 175/182 song
  9. Stevie Wonder: 179/181 songs

I checked to see who was next. New to 2023, Taylor Swift has been very quickly moving up the list and her 180 songs has passed Barry Gibb’s 177 and Neil Young’s 175. By the end of this year Swift will move into the top 10. The other pop artists in the top 50 Song Authors overall list are; Brian Wilson 168, Elton John 167, Elvis Costello 156, Ray Davies 151 and though not a performer, ABBA’s Manager Stig Anderson is at #50 with 145 songs. For the Phil Collins fans he’s #51 with 143 songs.

Just to point out the writers on the above list may have written more songs, so some are either not covered, covered but not documented and/or they may have songs not yet recorded by themselves or others. In general most songs don’t get recorded by another singer at all, but it just so happens these singer songwriters are so popular that a large portion of their songs, sometimes 100% continue to be remade, hence the increasing numbers.

Read more: The 2023 Update of the Most Covered Pop Songs and Artists of All Time

The most cover versions combined 

Top 10 total number of all cover versions of songs recorded (written by individual Pop Recording Artist(s) of any songs they have written, including instrumental covers). Comparing totals from 2022 to 2023 the top 10 remain the same.

  1. John Lennon: 20,163 to 22,146 (top solo song “Imagine” – over 500 versions)
  2. Paul McCartney: 19,999 to 21,871
             (top solo song “Wonderful Christmastime” – over 100 versions)
  3. Bob Dylan: 6,679 to 7315 (“Blowin’ in the Wind” – close to 400 versions)
  4. Stevie Wonder: 3,599 to 3863 (“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” over 310)
  5. Keith Richards: 3,278 to 3508 ((I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction over 351)
  6. Mick Jagger: 3,267 to 3497 ((I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction over 351)
  7. Hank Williams: 3,164 to 3432 (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” over 306)
  8. Carole King: 3,188 to 3382 (“You’ve Got a Friend” over 388)
  9. Paul Simon: 3,133 to 3352 (“Bridge over Troubled Water” over 584)
  10. David Bowie: 2,807 to 2921 (“Space Oddity”over 263)

I checked to see who would be next in line and the numbers there have changed quite a bit since my research in 2020. The following artists represent numbers (again just for pop artists): 11. Elton John with 2685/2723, 12. Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA) with 2611/2643, 13. Barry Gibb with 2571/2620, 14. Joni Mitchell with 2394/2446, 15. George Harrison with 2388/2413, 16. Robin Gibb 2303/2342. Next in line for pop artists but just outside the top 100 overall are at 17. Sting with 2182/2206, 18. Willie Dixon with 2120/2138, 19. Chuck Berry with 2089/2120 and at #20 is Maurice Gibb with 1839/1874 total covers.

As you can see there are number of record makers that appear on both Top 10 lists which include the 160 songs credited as John Lennon and Paul McCartney that were written and recorded while in The Beatles. As with Jagger and Richards, it includes the approximately 170 songs they wrote together with The Rolling Stones. Carole King wrote nearly 100 songs with Gerry Goffin that were recorded by dozens and dozens of artists, additionally they shared writing credits with other songwriters. Even though Bob Dylan did co-write some songs, he has written virtually all of his own songs as a solo songwriter.

The top 20 most covered Pop singles

This list doesn’t focus on the author, but you can see that several songs were written by the artist(s) themselves. Numbers are for 2021/2023. The songs on this list have changed positions quite a bit but the top 20 remain the same.

  1. “Yesterday” Covered 1,009/1093 times, credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, written by Paul McCartney this song is #8 for the most covered songs excluding Christmas songs.
  2. “Eleanor Rigby” Covered 633/696 times, credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, written by Paul McCartney. This is the next pop song on the list and at #37 overall.
  3. “Bridge over Troubled Water” Covered 584/625 times, written by Paul Simon, #67 overall
  4. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” * Covered 555/621 times, written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach
  5. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” *written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss / Covered 522/575 times
  6. “Let it Be” covered 501/564 times, credited to Lennon/McCartney,written by Paul McCartney
  7. “Unchained Melody” * Covered 515/561 times, written by Hy Zaret and Alex North
  8. “Fever”  Covered 528/560 times, written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell originally sung by Little Willie John
  9. “Michelle” Covered 522/557 times, credited to Lennon/McCartney, written by Paul McCartney
  10. “Hey Jude” covered 508/554 times, and as all of The Beatles songs were, credited to Lennon /McCartney, this one was written by Paul McCartney.
  11. “Something” Covered 519/553 times, The Beatles, written by George Harrison
  12. “Imagine” written and recorded (post Beatles) by John Lennon covered 497/549 times
  13. “Here, There and Everywhere” by The Beatles at 496/544
  14. “And I Love Her” covered 490/534 times, written primarily by Paul McCartney
  15. “The Look of Love”, covered 483/519 times, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
  16. “Blackbird”, covered 468/518 times, written by Paul McCartney
  17. “Hallelujah” covered 300/510 times, written by Leonard Cohen
  18. “God Bless the Child”* covered 471/501 times, written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr.
  19. “House of the Rising Sun” (adapted from Rising Sun Blues), covered 488/500 times, Traditional
  20. “Love Me Tender” * a 1956 release by Elvis Presley is likely next on the list. Covered over 400 times and written by Ken Darby it’s based on the song “Aura Lee” from 1881 written by George Poulton and W.W. Fosdick. The two songs have the same melody so are credited to the composer George Poulton. Combined they currently have over 540 covers.

Several of these songs (marked *) were not initially considered a ‘pop’ song per se. For example “Can’t Help Falling in Love” though based on a melody from “Plaisir d’amour” composed by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini in 1784, it is otherwise considered an original song. Released by Elvis in 1961 and as noted above written by the well known George David Weiss (What a Wonderful World) with Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore.

The Beatles Still Dominate

Still holding in 2023, the only artists that appear on all three lists are John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It’s quite remarkable that from 2020 The Beatles (or it’s members) have moved from having 7 of the top 15 songs to 9 of the top 15 in 2023. Pop music aside, based on a combination of every cover song list, Lennon and McCartney are still extending their lead ahead of all music composers. They are over 6,000 songs ahead of the next name on the list, Richard Rogers followed by the Gershwin’s, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington. Three years ago I said “I can’t ‘imagine’ they will ever be surpassed” and so far it’s been proven to be true. Since last October (2020), their numbers increased and these songs; “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” at 472 which puts at #142 on the list of all songs, “Come Together” at 451 covers is joined by”Both Sides Now” written by Joni Mitchell and “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb that have moved into the top 30 Pop song list and the latter being at #161 on the most covered songs (all genre) of all time. We shall see if next year The Beatles (and it’s members) songs will (very likely) continue their trend of moving or maintaining their place on the lists.

The Beatles/members now account for 20 of the top 30 most covered ‘Pop’ songs of all time.

That above statement says a lot about how The Beatles music continues to be relevant to so many people. However in most countries the population responsible for making them popular is aging, so what will happen to their music in another 25 years? While I believe that cover songs are a strong metric that demonstrates popularity (among recording artists themselves in particular) and the enduring quality of the music, other measurements have to come into play as well.

If we look at the The Beatles/members remarkable showing in cover songs as noted above, how to they fair when it comes to sales and streaming? They are still at #1 for record sales and since very few people buy actual records anymore (despite the vinyl revival) and with digital singles downloads being the predominant manner of purchasing music, it will be hard to top them. The last Beatle songs came out in 1970 and the strongest solo efforts from Lennon, McCartney (excluding collaborations with Kanye and Rihanna etc) and Harrison all came out shortly thereafter, so we have had 50 years of music and ample opportunity for someone to surpass them.

The Beatles catalogs first digital release was on Apple Itunes in 2010, before the streaming revolution. First available on Spotify in 2015, followed by other streaming services. They started 2022 having surpassed 10 Billion streams on Spotify alone. On all platforms they have over 16 billion streams which when combined with other numbers such as physical and digital sales has them still ranked as the #1 Best Selling Artists of all time. At #2 on that list is still Michael Jackson followed by Elvis Presley, Queen (ranked #1 in Streaming from artists on this list at 21 billion), Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and U2 to round out the top 10.

As the 45 rpm record cut into album sales, and CD’s killed vinyl records by 1989, Streaming in turn killed the CD. Streaming of course has changed the music landscape in so many other ways. Historical “apples to apples” comparisons are hard to make. Even the Billboard rankings are now heavily skewed toward Streaming numbers. Having said that these are the new metrics we have to gage the popularity of songs. Music is now more accessible than at anytime in history. If we look at the leading Streamer, Spotify (launched in 2006), by 2015 they had 77 million users, in 2022 they have had at least 422 million annual users and 188 million have paid subscriptions. Worldwide, music streaming has been used by billions of people.

Ed Sheeran’s single “Shape of You” which held the all time Spotify most streamed top spot since 2017, has been passed by The Weeknd with “Blinding Lights”, still they both exceed 3 billion. The Beatles “claimed sales” (an industry term) at 600 million may not sound that impressive anymore but streaming and sales are not the same thing at all. Still The Beatles music since 2015 is streamed on Spotify alone, on average over 1.4 billion times per year. Keeping in mind their last release was 52 years ago. Compare that to the still active Rolling Stones who have about 900 million on average per year but still an impressive 6.3 billion total streams. Yes I know this does not include the listening habits of many a luddite, troglodyte or myself for that matter… but we don’t come out of the basement for a head count very often.

After that look at The Beatles and the Stones numbers I thought that it would be interesting to see how these legendary artists from the first two lists are doing as individuals (only Lennon and MCCartney qualified) along with other solo artists for the top streaming totals.

According to and using the top covered artists lists I mentioned above, each have the following streaming numbers for 2022 (only those included on the 161 all-time top sellers list).

David Bowie: 6.8 billion
Stevie Wonder 5.2 billion
Bruce Springsteen: 5.1 billion
Paul McCartney: 4.1 billion
Bob Dylan 3.7 billion
John Lennon: 2.2 billion

Just to give some perspective for the beginning of 2023, Drake still has the most at 55 Billion streams and other top artists include; Taylor Swift at 41 Billion, Ed Sheeran at 40 Billion and Ariana Grande at 34 Billion.

Note: all song statistics are by and may conflict with other available data and or lists. For example lists the song she wrote and recorded “Both Sides Now” as being covered over 1200 times, where currently lists only 445 versions (originally recorded by Judy Collins). Keeping in mind that while I believe they are accurate, the Joni Mitchell numbers come from a small team solely dedicated to researching her songs, whereas is currently listing 189,995 artists, 134,027 original songs and 1,218,316 covers as of Feb. 2, 2023. To maintain a consistent and level playing field and quite frankly save myself 100’s more hours of research to verify individual artists, I use which is the most reliable information I have found.

Trivia Question.

Although all songs were credited to Lennon/McCartney, who was the main composer on the most Beatles songs?
Answer. John Lennon at 73 songs, Paul McCartney was on 70 and the two share close to 50/50 on 17 other songs. George Harrison managed to squeeze in 22 songs and Ringo got just 2!. The balance of what they recorded were cover versions. For some slightly different numbers and a detailed statistical analysis check out this interesting link, “John or Paul? Data Resolves the Age Old “Who was the #1 Beatle” Question”.

All of The Beatles songs (referenced above) have been clearly identified as 100% (or very close to that) as written by either John or Paul, verified by their own statements.

Originally edited by Richelle Dafoe, revised, errors and all on Feb. 2, 2023.

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References; 123456789101112,13
Images: 1