Thursday, May 4, 2017

Two Examples Of The Blues Song "The Sky Is Crying" (performed by Elmore James and performed by Etta James)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post provides information about Blues musician, singer, composer Elmore James and showcases a sound file of Elmore James performing his composition "The Sky Is Crying". Information about that song along with its lyrics are also featured in this post.

In addition, this pancocojams post provides information about Blues, Jazz, Gospel singer Etta James (no relations to Elmore James) and also showcases a sound file of Etta James singing "The Sky Is Crying".

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Elmore James for his musical legacy. Thanks also to Etta James for her musical legacy. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these sound files on YouTube.

"Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader.[1] He was known as "King of the Slide Guitar" and was noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.

James was born Elmore Brooks in Richland, Holmes County, Mississippi, the illegitimate son of 15-year-old Leola Brooks, a field hand. His father was probably Joe Willie "Frost" James, who moved in with Leola, and Elmore took his surname. He began making music at the age of 12, using a simple one-string instrument (diddley bow, or jitterbug) strung on a shack wall. As a teen he performed at dances under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James....

James was strongly influenced by Robert Johnson, Kokomo Arnold and Tampa Red. He recorded several of Tampa Red's songs. He also inherited from Tampa Red's band two musicians who joined his own backing band, the Broomdusters, "Little" Johnny Jones (piano) and Odie Payne (drums). There is a dispute about whether Johnson or James wrote James's signature song, "Dust My Broom".[2]

During World War II, James joined the United States Navy, was promoted to coxswain and took part in the invasion of Guam. Upon his discharge, he returned to central Mississippi and settled in the town of Canton with his adopted brother Robert Holston. Working in Holston's electrical shop, he devised his unique electric sound, using parts from the shop and an unusual placement of two DeArmond pickups.[2] Around this time James learned that he had a serious heart condition.
He began recording with Trumpet Records in nearby Jackson in January 1951, first as a sideman for Sonny Boy Williamson II and for their mutual friend Willie Love and possibly others. He made his debut as a session leader in August with "Dust My Broom", which was a surprise R&B hit in 1952.[1] His backing musicians became known as the Broomdusters.[1]


In 1959, he began recording for Bobby Robinson's Fire Records, which released "The Sky Is Crying", "My Bleeding Heart", "Stranger Blues", "Look on Yonder Wall", "Done Somebody Wrong", and "Shake Your Moneymaker", among others.[1]"...

SHOWCASE SOUND FILE : Elmore James - The Sky Is Crying

MyMoppet52, Published on Sep 10, 2014

One of our greatest blues artists and composers, and most of us don't even know his name. Listen to the original "The Sky Is Crying" from the composer. (Elmore James wrote the song). He passed away tragically when he was on the verge of the 60's blues revival. Rock and blues owe him a great debt. Elmore James, King of the Slide Guitar: January 27, 1918 - May 24, 1963. He is missed.

"The Sky Is Crying" is a song that has become a blues standard.[2] It was written and recorded by Elmore James[1] in 1959. Called "one of his most durable compositions",[3] "The Sky Is Crying" became a R&B record chart hit and has been interpreted and recorded by numerous artists.[2]

Original song
"The Sky Is Crying" is a slow-tempo twelve-bar blues notated in 12/8 time in the key of C.[4] An impromptu song inspired by a Chicago downpour during the recording session, it features James' slide guitar work and vocals.[3] Accompanying James is his longtime backing band, the Broomdusters: J. T. Brown on saxophone, Johnny Jones on piano, Odie Payne on drums, and Homesick James on bass. James' unique slide guitar sound on the recording has generated some debate; Homesick James attributed it to a recording studio technique, others have suggested a different amplifier or guitar setup, and Ry Cooder felt that it was an altogether different guitar than James' usual Kay acoustic with an attached pickup.[5]

The song, listed as "Elmo James and His Broomdusters", reached number 15 on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart in 1960,[6] making it James' last chart showing before his death in 1963. James recorded a variation of the song, "The Sun Is Shining", in April 1960,[7] five months after the recording date of "The Sky Is Crying" (although some places "Sun" as a precursor to "Sky",[8] possibly because the bulk of James' recordings for Fire/Fury/Enjoy took place after the Chess recordings)."...

(Elmore James)

The sky is crying, look at the tears roll down the street
The sky is crying, look at the tears roll down the street
I'm waiting in tears looking for my baby, and I wonder where can she be?

I saw my baby one morning, and she was walking on down the street
I saw my baby one morning, yes she walking on down the street
Made me feel so good until my poor heart would skip a beat

I got a bad feeling, my baby, my baby don't love me no more
I got a bad feeling, my baby don't love me no more
Now the sky's been crying, the tears rolling down my door


"Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer who performed in various genres, including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as "The Wallflower", "At Last", "Tell Mama", "Something's Got a Hold on Me", and "I'd Rather Go Blind". [1] She faced a number of personal problems, including heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration, before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch.[2]
James' powerful, earthy voice bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll. She won six Grammy Awards and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008.[3] Rolling Stone magazine ranked James number 22 on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists.[4][5]"

SHOWCASE SOUND FILE: Etta James - Blues To The Bone - The Sky Is Crying

Caela Harlot, Uploaded on Oct 29, 2010

Beautiful song by the lovely Etta James (1938 - 2012). Her death is a great loss to the world, hope she's content where ever she is and that people continue to learn from her and become pioneers of blues and jazz (amongst many other genres).

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. The fact that Elmore James and Etta James had the same last name (actually the same last name as their stage name), I decided to look up information about whether the last name "James" was more common among Black Americans than other Americans.

    That led to this pancocojams post about the 100 most common Black American Names (as compiled by the 2000 US census):

    With regard to my initial question, the surname "James" ranks 37th among Black Americans, and 80th among total Americans.