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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Great Popular Songs (3): Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather was written in 1933 by Harold Arlen 1905-1986 (music) and Ted Koehler 1894-1973 (lyrics). It was first performed in that year by Ethel Waters at The Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City and she recorded it later that year. It was sung in the same year in London by Elizabeth Welch who sung it forty-six years later at the age of 75 at the end of Derek Jarman's film of The Tempest. Since those days it has been recorded many times.
Notable versions have been sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and famously by Lena Horne in the 1943 film Stormy Weather.  There are many other great versions also available- too many to name here!
But I have to say that my personal favourite is the version by Etta James. Listen here.
Etta James 1938 - 2012, not a natural blonde.

Don't know why
There's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain't together
Keeps raining all of the time
Oh, yeah

Life is bad
Gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather, stormy weather
And I just can't get my poor self together
Oh, I'm weary all of the time
The time, so weary all of the time

When he went away
The blues walked in and met me
Oh, yeah if he stays away
Old rocking chair's gonna get me
All I do is pray
The Lord will let me
Walk in the sun once more

Can't go on
Everything I have is gone
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain't together
Keeps rainin' all the time
Keeps rainin' all the time


The song is heavy with the weather as a powerful metaphor for the singer's feelings as she moves from "gloom and misery everywhere" and eventually aspires to "walk in the sun once more". There is plenty of space within this song for a singer to display strong feelings and express emotions.
Harold Arlen wrote more than 500 popular songs. His most famous composition was Somewhere Over The Rainbow, voted the twentieth centurie's number one song. Ted Koehler  was  inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1972.
I'm in Crete for a while so will respond when I get back home.

2 comments:

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

That is such a great song and I agree with you that Etta James rendition was wonderful.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - it is a wonderful song ... and yes we can hear her feelings in the song ... and Etta James did and does have a lovely evocative voice ... Stormy Weather is a lovely song ... cheers Hilary