“Summertime” might sound like a quintessential country ballad by Willie Nelson, but it actually has a surprising origin story. The song was originally composed by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.” The Gershwin brothers are legends of American music, known for their contributions to jazz and popular music.

“Summertime” quickly transcended its operatic roots. Its beautiful melody and evocative lyrics about the carefree days of summer resonated with audiences. The song became a jazz standard, covered by countless artists across genres.

Willie Nelson’s rendition of “Summertime” falls into a unique category. Released in 2016 on his album “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” it wasn’t his first foray into interpreting other artists’ work. However, this album held a special significance. Nelson had been awarded the prestigious Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress, an honor recognizing his lifetime contribution to music. “Summertime” became the album’s title track and a heartfelt tribute to the Gershwin legacy.

Nelson’s version strips away the operatic grandeur, presenting the song in a stripped-down, country style. His signature raspy vocals and melancholic phrasing lend a new dimension to the lyrics. The carefree ease of summer takes on a wistful quality, a gentle reminder of the fleeting nature of warmth and joy.

Whether you’re a longtime Willie Nelson fan or a newcomer discovering the magic of “Summertime,” this rendition offers a unique perspective on a beloved classic. Nelson’s voice, imbued with the wisdom of years, allows us to appreciate the beauty of summer with a touch of bittersweet longing. So press play, settle back, and let yourself be transported to those long, lazy days of summer, forever captured in this timeless song.