Special Report

Most Covered Songs in Music History

9. “St. Louis Blues”
> Covers: 913
> Written by: W.C. Handy
> Originally recorded by: Prince’s Band

Secondhandsongs.com cites ASCAP as saying that this early blues song was the most recorded song of the first half of the 20th century. Prince’s Band, led by conductor and pianist Charles Adams Prince, first recorded the song in 1915, releasing it the following year. A multitude of jazz, blues, swing, and pop recordings have followed.

8. “‘Round Midnight”
> Covers: 946
> Written by: Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams
> Originally recorded by: Cootie Williams and His Orchestra

Trumpeter Cootie Williams and His Orchestra first released “‘Round Midnight” in 1944. He shares writing credit with the legendary pianist Thelonious Monk — who first recorded it himself in 1948. Among the many artists who have since covered the ballad are Miles Davis, Michel Legrand, and Dizzy Gillespie. At least three lyricists have added words to what was originally an instrumental, and there are vocal versions by the likes of Carmen McRae, Mel Torme, and even Linda Ronstadt.

7. “All the Things You Are”
> Covers: 967
> Written by: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II
> Originally recorded by: Artie Shaw and His Orchestra with Helen Forrest

The songwriting team of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II collaborated on “All Things You Are,” written for the 1939 musical “Very Warm for May” and first performed live in the play by Hiram Sherman, Frances Mercer, Hollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. Clarinetist-bandleader Artie Shaw made the first recording about three weeks after its stage debut. It has become a standard of the jazz and pop repertoire, and has even been recorded by classical musicians.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

6. “Yesterday”
> Covers: 1,015
> Written by: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
> Originally recorded by: The Beatles

The melancholy song “Yesterday” altered the perception of the Beatles as just another rock band from England. Since the Fab Four first recorded it in 1965, there have been more than 1,000 covers of it. Among the artists who have covered it are Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Marty Robbins, Elvis Presley, and Dionne Warwick. There are also versions in countless foreign languages.

5. “My Funny Valentine”
> Covers: 1,159
> Written by: Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart
> Originally recorded by: Fairchild and Carroll and Their Orchestra

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart penned “My Funny Valentine” for the 1937 Broadway musical “Babes in Arms,” in which former child star Mitzi Green, then a teenager, first performed it. The earliest recording, released the same year, was by an orchestra conducted by pianists and bandleaders Edgar Fairchild and Adam Carroll. It soon became a favorite of both jazz and pop performers, from Miles Davis and Chet Baker (for whom it became a signature song) to Rickie Lee Jones and Barbra Streisand.

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