It Ain't Necessarily So

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"It Ain't Necessarily So" is a popular song with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The song comes from the Gershwins' opera Porgy and Bess (1935) where it is sung by the character Sportin' Life, a drug dealer, who expresses his doubt about several statements in the Bible.


In the song, the melody for the words "It ain't necessarily so" resembles the melody for the words "Bar'chu et adonai ham'vorach", at the beginning of the aliyah blessing before reading from the Torah.[1]


John W. Bubbles

The role of Sportin' Life was created by John W. Bubbles. Other notable incarnations of the character include Cab Calloway on stage and Sammy Davis, Jr. in the 1959 film.

Early charted versions were by Leo Reisman (1935) and by Bing Crosby (1936).[2] The song was notably sung by Aretha Franklin and Bobby Darin on his 1959 album That's All, and Aretha also recorded it for her album Aretha (with the Ray Bryant Combo).

It was covered a number of times during the Rock era. It was included as an album track by The Honeycombs on their debut-album, The Honeycombs in 1964. Released as a single, the song was a major Australian hit in 1965 for singer Normie Rowe, reaching number 5 on the Australian singles charts. Also in 1965 The Moody Blues covered the song for their album, The Magnificent Moodies. The Moody Blues' version is notable for the fact that it was their first recording with band member Ray Thomas singing the lead vocals.

In 1984, the song was released as a single by UK band Bronski Beat with Jimmy Somerville on lead vocals. The song was taken from Bronski Beat's debut album, The Age of Consent and reached number 16 on the UK singles charts.

Other versions include Cher in 1994, Jamie Cullum in 2002, Sting, Brian Wilson on his 2010 Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin album and Hugh Laurie on his 2011 album Let Them Talk. In 2014, Spanish Jazz singer Pedro Ruy-Blas included the song on his album "El Americano".

Cut verse[edit]

There is a cut verse that was cut solely for the use of an encore. The lyrics were:

Way back in 5000 B.C.
Ole Adam an' Eve had to flee
Sure, dey did dat deed in
De Garden of Eden
But why chasterize you an' me?[3]

Other uses[edit]

It Ain't Necessarily So is also the title of the autobiography of the American musician Larry Adler.

It Ain't Necessarily So is also the title of a philosophical paper on modality by Hilary Putnam.

An instrumental (strings) version of 'It Ain't Necessarily So' provided the music for Olympic gold medalist gymnast Natalia Laschenova's floor routine at the 1991 Universiade.


  1. ^ Jon Pareles (January 29, 1997). "History of a Nation in Its Song to Itself". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 530. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  3. ^ Kick, Russ (2007-06-01). Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion. Red Wheel Weiser. ISBN 9781934708378.