Wolf was born in Creston, British Columbia and her heritage is that of the Saulteaux or Plains Ojibwe First Nations, although she new little of this growing up as she was raised Jehovah’s Witness. Jayli has overcome much in her lifetime and that experience comes through in her music. Our First Nations peoples in Canada have a story that needs to be heard. I was struck by the lyrics in the songs and the way that Jayli is telling part of it, as well as her own.
Just why is it that there are so many versions of Portuguese songs?
“Ensinando A Bossa Nova”(1963) by Trio Esperança, translation by Almeida Rêgo
Aficionados of the Brazilian art will not doubt catch me out on using this song. It was originally in English and written by the Brill Building couple of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. It was first recorded by Eydie Gorme and released in 1962 and was meant to jump on board with the Bossa Nova craze. It hit #7 on Billboard and #32 in the UK. The English translation of Bossa Nova is “new style” and it is a variation on the traditional Afro-Brazilian Samba. While it is both a dance and a genre of music, it is really an amalgam of styles with origins in areas throughout Brazil.
Today I am talking about songs that went the other way, from Portuguese to English. On the strength of these songs from Brazil, Portuguese becomes the second most performed language for cover songs, after English of course. As I noted in the post on French there is no other language with more translations by song titles, but Portuguese leads the way over all languages for the number of versions.
We can primarily credit two names for the Bossa Nova. João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim who are also the creators of the songs with so many cover versions. Just so we understand the scale, the most covered (non Christmas) song is “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess currently with 2619 renditions and at #200 is Cole Porter’s “So in Love” with 434 versions. As there are over 136,500 original songs in the database at Secondhandsongs.com, being in the top 200 puts any title in rarified air. Ok, since there are so many versions I guess “rare” is a poor word to use but I think you get my meaning! So, at eight songs in the top 200 most covered songs of all time, Portuguese has more titles and versions in this ranking than all other foreign language songs, combined.
“Garota de Ipanema” is the 18th most covered song of all time with 859 versions, placing it #1 for songs from 1962. The music was written by Antônio Carlos Jobim to be referred to as ACJ and lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes (VdM). It was first performed the two songwriters and João Gilberto to save some keystrokes that will be JG. While there are many covers in Portuguese the lion’s share of the versions are instrumentals. I didn’t count them all but there are at least 300 covers since the first English version (March 1963). Translation was provided by Norman Gimbel and the song was officially credited as “The Girl from Ipanema” by Stan Getz & João Gilberto featuring Antônio Carlos Jobim. Remarkable yet typical, the woman, Astrud Gilberto who sang half the song in English had her name left out. History remembers better, if you ask who sang the song?…
“Manhã de Carnaval” is the 41st most covered song with 732 versions putting it at #1 from 1959. The music is by Luiz Bonfá and the lyrics by Antônio Maria. First performed in the movie Orfeu Negro by Agostinho dos Santos. The first record release was by JG (João Gilberto) and that’s the last hint on the intitails. The English version was written by the oft to translate trio of Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss and Hugo Peretti. “Carnival” was first recorded by The Ames Brothers in 1960. The melody was used in the Carl Sigman song “A Day in the Life of a Fool”.
“Corcovado” is the 61st most covered song with 662 versions and #2 from 1960. It was written by ACJ (Antônio Carlos Jobim) and the last hint there as well. You may be surprised to learn the first release was by JG. The English lyrics were written by Gene Lees who was a Canadian Composer that translated many more Portuguese songs as well as French and Spanish. Sarah Vaughn was the first to release it in 1964 as “Quiet Nights” it is also known as “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”. There is another well known English adaptation “Quiet Nights (Corcovado)” written by Buddy Kay and recorded by Tony Bennett in 1962. A beautiful rendition of “Corcovado” in English released by Getz and JG with vocals, once again from an officially uncredited Astrud Gilberto.
“Insensatez” is at #107 with 561 versions and at #2 for 1961. It was written by ACJ and VdM (Vinícius de Moraes). First released by JG in 1961. Norman Gimbel is not only the English translator on many of these tunes but the person behind the inspiration to bring many of these songs to the American market. First released as “How Insensitive” in 1964 by Peggy Lee with the Orchestra conducted by Max Bennett.
“Wave” is at #141 with 505 versions and it was written in both Portuguese (Vou te Contar) and English this time, again by ACJ. First released in English by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 in 1967, so they were a little late.
“Samba de uma nota só” is at #145 with 479 versions, lyrics by Newton Mendonça and music by you guessed it ACJ. And another surprise, first released in 1960 by JG. Known as “One Note Samba” released in 1962 by Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan, translation by Jon Hendricks.
“Aquarela do Brasil” is at #187 with 450 versions, first released in 1939 by Francisco Alves com Radamés Gnattali e sua Orquestr, this very popular song was written by Ary Barroso who also wrote “Na Baixa do Sapateiro” which was a big hit for the great Carmen Miranda. The English translation was by Bob Russell who was a fine lyrist that wrote songs for Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and even The Monkees! “Brazil” was a big hit in 1942 for Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra with Vocal Choruses by Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell.
“Desafinado” is at #199 has 425 versions and the #1 most covered song from 1958. Music by ACJ and lyrics by Newton Mendonça. And his sixth song on this list, it is JG who released it in 1958. The english translation is a bit loose but we see Jon Hendricks again, this time with Jessie Cavanaugh. It was first released by Pat Thomas, arranged and conducted by Lalo Schifrin in 1962. It is better know for the next version that same year and titled “Desafinado (Slightly out of Tune)” by Ella Fitzgerald.
So this is by far the end of the story for the likes of ACJ who’s next most covered song “Chega de Saudade” has 410 versions and is #2 for 1958. He has another 24 songs with over 200 versions each and a total of 107 covered works. As to his collaborator JG he has another two original songs with over 400 versions and many more covered songs. He is also one of the most popular and prolific artists from Brazil and was very well known internationally. The were both frequent collaborators with the great American Jazz tenor saxophonist Stan Getz. He kinda out collaborated João Gilberto to have a relationship with Astrud (Gilberto) after their divorce of course. But hey apparently they all stayed friends!
To say that Lightfoot was a Canadian Icon is understating his impact. He was among the leaders of the Folk scene in the early 60’s and 70’s. There will be many tributes and biographies to read today and in the coming weeks. He will most certainly be celebrated in Canada but many from around the world will remember him fondly for his beautiful songs and distinctive voice. He recorded his fist album in 1964 but it was not released until 1966. The focus of my blog has been cover songs and I have talked about Gordon in a previous post, I will repurpose some of the songs I have talked about. Like Bob Dylan, Lightfoot’s songs were recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and their cover of a song from his debut album Lightfoot! helped to bring his songs to a wider audience. You may not know this but American Singer/Songwriter legend that has long since passed, Jim Croce had started his career not only wanting to sound like Lightfoot but recorded some songs in that style until he eventually found his own voice. He covered “Steel Rail Blues” on his first album.
Other versions feature a who’s who of music; Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Jeannie C. Riley, Liza Minnelli, Don Williams and Neil Young.
So, this next song puzzles me a bit, as it has not been covered often. “Beautiful” was written by Gordon Lightfoot and recorded in 1972. If you want a wedding or anniversary song look no further than this. Here is a nice rendition from Glenn Willow
“Sundown” written by Gordon Lightfoot and released on the album “Gordon Lightfoot” in 1974. It peaked at #1 in Canada and the U.S. in June of 1974 and would be his only US number one hit song.
The song clearly resonated with a lot of people and while none of his songs enjoyed the chart success of this one he has made a very good living I suspect. He had planned tour dates on his calendar when he passed. He himself had been through a lot of heartbreak and health problems. A true musical living legend.
The Top 25 Artists with the most Tributes (Recorded Songs/Albums/Concerts)
The Beatles. No surprise to anyone I am sure. There isn’t much of a question here, for those wishing to give hommage à nos héros musicaux (tribute to our musical heroes) that’s from Google Translate, probably bad French but “hommage” didn’t seem pithy enough. The Beatles offer plenty of choices to be celebrated. According to The Beatles Bible there are 41 complete discographies from around the world. Why so many? The release of singles and albums was often different from country to country so the source material varies, not to mention the language translations and artwork. Yes the songs are the same but to your average discophile it’s a dream come true. The important point here is it really shows their international reach. They appeared in five major movies, there are at least 20 documentaries, and over 40 films that were either inspired by them or have some fictional account. I read there may be over 2,000 books about them, I saw a list titled 100 Best Beatles Books of All Time, this gives you an idea as to how many might be out there. What this means is that there is a wellspring from around the world available to inspire a producer, artist or a group of artists to make a tribute song, a complete album or a concert/show dedicated to The Beatles. Not to mention the theatrical shows, Cover Bands, and Symphonic performances around the world, these numbers are untolled. In fact I had recently planned on attending one such show with some of my siblings, my health had other ideas but apparently it was magical. Recording artists as well want to sing The Beatles songs. Secondhandsongs.com lists 204 songs that have been covered by 9,154 artists with 21,896 covers. They are also the world’s most covered performers and individually; John (#31) and Paul (#44) are on this same tribute list. Plus they both lead all songwriters of any genre for the most covered songs. Doing a cover of an original song is a tribute of another kind. All these things offered enough incentive for the creation of a total of 801 Tributes. You can check this Wiki link for more info.
Elvis Presley 383. Surprise! The King of Rock & Roll is #2. “Jailhouse Rock”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, just one example, The Embassy Records Story – A Tribute To Elvis Presley.
Duke Ellington 259. A prolific composer,”It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”
George Gershwin 233. Composer of such classics as “Summertime” and “Embraceable You”
Bob Dylan 229. Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, “The Times They Are a Changin'”
Cole Porter 194. American composer of “Night and Day”, “Love for Sale”, “True Love”
Thelonious Monk 189. Iconic Jazz artist and the King of be-bop. “Straight No Chaser”
Antônio Carlos Jobim 149. Brazilian legend, “Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado”
Frank Sinatra 122. Because he is Frank. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” his biggest original hit
Burt Bacharach 111. So many iconic songs with lyricist Hal David, “The Look of Love”
Frank Zappa 108. Experimental artist, R&R Hall of Fame, “Peaches en regalia”
The Rolling Stones 107. Iconic Rock and Roll band, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
David Bowie 109. Songwriter, performance chameleon, “Space Oddity”, “Heroes”
Evert Taube 97. Sailor and Swedish Balladeer and a cultural icon.
ABBA 96. Swedens biggest export and one of world’s leading groups “Dancing Queen”, “SOS”
Irving Berlin 93. Born in Belarus, settled in New York, “White Christmas”, “Cheek to Cheek”
Kurt Weill 91. German composer that created The Threepenny Opera and “Mack the Knife” with Bertolt Brecht who is #65 on this list with 49 Tributes.
Billie Holiday 90. Iconic voice and symbol, “Strange Fruit”, “God Bless the Child”
Scott Joplin 90. The son of a Slave became the King of Ragtime, “The Entertainer” from 1902.
Johnny Cash 88. The man in black, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line”, “Big River”
Depeche Mode 88. Another export from England, Synth-Pop and Dance “Enjoy the Silence”
Hank Williams 85. Country Music icon and Songwriter, “Jambalaya”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
Queen 84. Still going strong without Freddie, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We are the Champions”
Pink Floyd 82. One of the most influential Rock bands, “Wish You Were Here”, “Money”
There were not a lot of surprises on the list and the only name I didn’t recognize was Evert Taube who was Sweden’s foremost troubadour. If you go down to #100 on the list it is Andrew Lloyd Webber, and as the list continues you find these are all very well known artists and composers. It’s hard not to notice there are only two mentions of women on the top 25 list, one half of ABBA and Billie Holiday. Working down the list; Joni Mitchell is #35, Madonna is #50, Taylor Swift #70, Édith Piaf #81, The Carpenters (Karen) #98 and Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks) #99. So that’s 11 names out of 100. The next 100 has 12 women. What is unseen and often uncredited are roles women played in the success of men. One example is Helene Weigel who was a long time “silent collaborator” with Bertolt Brecht, as to what extent we do not know, later she would become his second wife but only received one writing credit that I could find. Just an observation. I mean, no one has control over this list, it is however a reflection of the historic culture that surrounds music.
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.
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 Seondhandsongs.com for reference’s, the only problem with that is that there are very few dealing with women songwriters. The only credible source apart from Secondhandsongs.com was JoniMitchell.com 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 secondhandsongs.com database. Today I have chosen to list the names in the order they appear on Secondhandsongs.com. The numbers for Joni Mitchell are from their database only and therefore places her further down than you would see on my other lists.
Carole Bayer Sager
Some notable names to follow are Mariah Carey 708 covers, Felice Bryant 708 covers, Peggy Lee 695 covers and Katy Perry with 690 covers.