Rock and rollers have always killed the Gershwin signature tune “Summertime.”
Sam Cooke killed it. Janis Joplin absolutely killed it. Billy Preston killed it.
Every one of them got more out of it than any pre-rock pop singer I’ve heard.
Glenn Frey and the Eagles went even further and wrote “Lyin’ Eyes,” (a better song) about the same girl.
But until this week, I never realized that the version which perhaps went the furthest didn’t even use the words. I can’t really convey what it was like to hear it drifting in from the other room, backing up “Hip Hug-Her” on Time is Tight, the super-fine box set Stax’s reissue label put out on Booker T and the MGs a generation back. Suffice it to say the Memphis boys conceded nothing to either Tin Pan Alley or Charlie Parker and from now on it will always be one of those records I reference spiritually when I catch myself wondering what all the dread and beauty felt like, just before the fall.
From ’66…And you can imagine it matching the mood at anything from a backyard barbecue to a flag-draped funeral.