Summertime chords by Billie Holiday


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Summertime | Chords + Lyrics (no capo)


Intro

| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |

Verse 1

| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
Summertime, and the living is easy.
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |
Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.
| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
Oh, your daddy’s rich, and your ma is good-looking.
| Db Bbm7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db Gb7 | Cm7 F7 |
So, hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Verse 2

| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing.
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to sky.
| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
But ’til that morning, there’s a-nothing can harm you.
| Db Bbm7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db Gb7 | Cm7 F7 |
With daddy and mammy standing by.

Solo

| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |
| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
| Db Bbm7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db Gb7 | Cm7 F7 |

Verse 3

| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing.
| Ebm7 Gb | Ebm7 Ebm7/Db | F7b9/C Gb7 | F7 |
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to sky.
| Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C | Bbm7 F7b9/C | Db6 F7b9/C |
But ’til that morning, there’s a-nothing can harm you.
| Db Bbm7 | Eb7 Ab7 | Db N.C | N.C Bm7 Bbm7 |
With daddy and mammy standing by.



Summertime | Chords + Lyrics (capo 1)


Intro

| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
| Dm7 F | Dm7 Dm7/C | Bdim7 F7 | E7 |

Verse 1

| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
Summertime, and the living is easy.
| Dm7 F | Dm7 Dm7/C | Bdim7 F7 | E7 |
Fish are jumping, and the cotton is high.
| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
Oh, your daddy’s rich, and your ma is good-looking.
| C Am7 | D7 G7 | C F7 | Bm7 E7 |
So, hush, little baby, don’t you cry.

Verse 2

| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing.
| Dm7 F | Dm7 Dm7/C | Bdim7 F7 | E7 |
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to sky.
| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
But ’til that morning, there’s a-nothing can harm you.
| C Am7 | D7 G7 | C F7 | Bm7 E7 |
With daddy and mammy standing by.

Solo

| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
| Dm7 F | Dm7 Dm7/C | Bdim7 F7 | E7 |
| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
| C Am7 | D7 G7 | C F7 | Bm7 E7 |

Verse 3

| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
One of these mornings you’re going to rise up singing.
| Dm7 F | Dm7 Dm7/C | Bdim7 F7 | E7 |
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to sky.
| Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 | Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 |
But ’til that morning, there’s a-nothing can harm you.
| C Am7 | D7 G7 | C N.C | N.C Bbm7 Am7 |
With daddy and mammy standing by.



Summertime Chords: Learn the progressions


Summertime Guitar Lesson + TAB T

There have been so many modifications done to poor Summertime’s chords that it is impossible to say what they are. Everyone you ask will give you a different answer.

Let’s go back to the source so to speak and see how Billie Holiday played it and make sure you get that right first.

And since it’s easier for a guitar player to think in the key of Am than Bbm, let’s move it all down a semitone, should you want to play along with the original recording, place a capo on fret 1.

What we have here is a minor blues, with a major turnaround. The only thing you simply must do is alternate the bass. As long as you alternate the bass, you could make Summertime’s chords this simple:

| Am7 (/E) | Am7 (/E) | Am7 (/E) | Am7 (/E) |
|1. Dm7 (/A) | Dm7 (/A) | E7 (/B) | E7 :|||
|2. C Am7 | D7omit3 G7 | C F | C E7 |

We are moving VI – II – IIIx – VI for the first 12 bars.

The turnaround is a I – VI – II – V (very common) and then I – IV – I – IIIx, also very common.

Here’s some TAB for how the first 8 bars could be played in this super simplified way.

Summertime chords and TAB. Idea 1 first line.

Sing along as you play this and you’ll realise that it works, although it’s not very jazz, it’s more blues.

Let’s now look at how we can jazz this up.

The first chords, Am7 and Am7/E could be turned into Am7 and some kind of E chord. Since E is IIIx, which has a natural b9, let’s play an E7b9, it’s more jazz!

Next, let’s remember that a dom7b9 chord can always be replaced by a dim7 chord a tone down as they share the same notes, so Ddim7.

Since every dim7 chord is built on consecutive minor thirds, there are three more that are identical, Bdim7, Fdim7, and Abdim7.

The one above our Am7 is the Bdim7. If we keep going up and play an Am with its 3rd in the bass, we get a C6. Go back to Bdim7 and we have this cool chord progression instead of Am7Am7/E:

||: Am7 Bdim7 | C6 Bdim7 :||

This is what Billie Holiday plays (although she’s in the key of Bb and most people call it an F7b9/C instead of a Cdim7).

Anyway, here’s some TAB for how you could play this first chord riff of Summertime in the key of Am.

Summertime chords and TAB. Idea 2 first line.

The rest of the chord progression is manipulated in a similar way (see above – Summertime chords and lyrics in two keys).

Members get TAB for the complete verse in a simplified way, with all the new chords, as well as a third way, playing barre chords.

Here’s a link to the complete lesson (members only): Summertime – Guitar lesson with TAB.

Become a member today and get unlimited access to all step-by-step guitar coursesTAB for the songbook, the Self-Eliminating Practice Routine, and the eBook Spytunes Method.

Summertime – The Opera that became the most covered Jazz standard of all time!

Originally found in the Opera Porgy & Bess (Gershwin 1935). Summertime was made famous as a jazz blues ballad by Billie Holiday the following year.

Since then, it has been recorded over 25.000 times, making it the world’s most-covered tune.

Apart from Billie’s “original jazz version”, Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson, and Eva Cassidy stood out from the crowd.

Instrumental versions by Dizzy, Bird, Miles, and YouTube sensation Chad LB must also be studied if you’re serious about soloing.

And let’s not forget every jazz singer and instrumentalist who has cut their teeth on this classic, in fact, you’d have to spend a long time looking for a jazz musician who hasn’t played Summertime.

It’s thanks to all these people that the legacy of Summertime is so strong. I’ve included many versions in the playlist at the top of this page, check them out!


Summertime Chords | Related Pages


Advanced Acoustic

Discover more Advanced Acoustic Songs, similar chords to Summertime.

The advanced acoustic tunes use big chord extensions and sometimes, unique and complex chords that incorporate open strings.

Study these in-depth and you will gain a complete understanding of the guitar fretboard, including how to build any scale, arpeggio, or chord.


Five similar tunes with chords and lyrics

When you can play Summertime's chords, try these five tunes from the songbook.


Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was the first jazz singer to make Summertime famous. It is her chords we study here.

As the first female jazz singer to record in the 30s, Billie Holiday is up there with the greats who defined the genre of Jazz.

Her hits include Summertime, Blue Moon, Solitude, Pennies From Heaven, and the controversial Strange Fruit.


Billie Holiday on the web

Listen to Billie Holiday on Spotify.


Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald sang Summertime.

Ella Fitzgerald released 61 studio albums and 25 live albums between 1936 and 1989. Crowned the First Lady Of Song, she is recognized for performing and recording most of the Great American Songbook.

Before this, she pioneered scat-singing in the 40s as a devoted Bebop singer.


Ella Fitzgerald on the web

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald on Spotify.


Ballads

When you can play Summertime, compare the chords with these Ballads as well.

The perfect first dance or an emotional piece for your next audition, this collection of ballads is great for working on your expression.

Learn tunes from Burt Bacharach, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Eva Cassidy, Ben Harper, Etta James, Chet Baker, Elvis, Norah Jones, and many more.


Blues & Jazz

When you can play Summertime's chords, check out more Blues & Jazz tunes!

The foundation upon which popular music stands, Blues & Jazz tunes must be explored in depth by the serious guitar player.

Learn from the best by studying the greatest tunes of the genres. Study the iconic licks and melodies to grasp the language of these most important styles.



About me

About Me Dan Lundholm T

This article on Summertime’s chords was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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