I Cover the Waterfront (song)

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Sarah Vaughan I Cover the Waterfront

"I Cover the Waterfront" is a 1933 popular song and jazz standard composed by Johnny Green with lyrics by Edward Heyman.

The song was inspired by Max Miller's 1932 best-selling novel I Cover the Waterfront. The song became instantly popular, and many artists have covered it since 1933: Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Annette Hanshaw, Abe Lyman's California Ambassador Hotel Orchestra, Connee Boswell, and Louis Armstrong, among others.[1] A 1933 motion picture, also inspired by Miller's book and also titled I Cover the Waterfront, was re-scored at the last minute to include the tune. Sheet music publishers later used the film's success by claiming that the song was "[i]nspired by the United Artist Picture of the same name".[1] Years later, Ella Fitzgerald recorded this song in her 1979 live album Digital III at Montreux on Pablo Records.

John Lee Hooker recorded several covers of the song. One appears on the 1991 compilation The Ultimate Collection and another with Van Morrison on Hooker's 1991 album Mr. Lucky. Hooker's versions make such great changes from the original melody and lyrics that his own label credits him as the songwriter.

R&B/soul singer/actress Miki Howard portraying Billie Holiday performs the song in the 1992 film Malcolm X.


  1. ^ a b "I Cover the Waterfront" at jazzstandards.com - retrieved 24 May 2009.

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