Friday, June 17, 1983

50 years ago: Ethel Waters hit #1 with “Stormy Weather”

Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time)

Ethel Waters

Writer(s): Harold Arlen/ Ted Koehler (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 20, 1933


Peak: 13 US, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.59 video, -- streaming

Awards (for Ethel Waters’ version):


Awards (for Lena Horne’s version):

About the Song:

In the early 1930s, the famed Cotton Club in Harlem, New York, featured African-American performers on stage although they weren’t allowed to sit in the audience. TM Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son, and Ted Koehler wrote this “bluesy perennial” TM for Cab Calloway to introduce in a Cotton Club revue, but decided it was more fitting for a female singer and gave it to Ethel Waters. TY

Waters established herself as an “incomparable interpreter of the American Songbook,” NRR but began her career as a blues singer before adapting her voice to a more conversational style and reshaping herself as a pioneer jazz singer. NRR When she performed “Stormy Weather” in the show Cotton Club Parade, she sang it “with all her soul…expressing the anguish of people who found nothing but gloom and misery…because of the Depression.” TY “Her career – already in high flight – soared to a still loftier trajectory.” SS Waters called it “a turning point in my life.” SS

Her 1933 recording of the song was a #1 hit (Metronome magazine called it “1933’s biggest hit” SS), as was Arlen’s own recording with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra. Guy Lombardo, Duke Ellington, and Ted Lewis also had top ten hits with the song and Lena Horne took it to #21 a decade later PM when she performed in the 1943 film of the same name. She made “Stormy Weather” “her signature song [and] an autobiographical statement” TM as she became “a beacon for black performers.” TM “Her keen beauty, soprano lilt and silky poise would have made her a Hollywood star if the industry hadn’t been so profoundly racist.” TM

“Summarizing a century of pop music, the song sounds fresh and poignant in this century as well.” TM “It has become a cabaret standard” JA in which the meaning of the song lyrics are conveyed with subtle theatricality.” NRR


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Ethel Waters
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Harold Arlen
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Lena Horne
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Ted Koehler
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 181.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 180.
  • TM Time magazine (10/24/2011). “All Time 100 Songs
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 70.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 585.

First posted 7/8/2012; last updated 4/22/2021.

Monday, June 13, 1983

June 13, 1983: Stevie Ray Vaughan's debut album, Texas Flood, released

Originally posted October 4, 2010. Last updated September 7, 2018.

Texas Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Released: June 13, 1983


Sales (in millions):
US: 2.0
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): 2.0


Peak:
US: 38
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

Quotable: “This album is the kind of raw double shot of blues and rock that made Vaughan one of the 1980s’ best in-concert performers.” – Ted Drozdowski, Amazon.com


Genre: blues rock


Album Tracks:

  1. Love Struck Baby
  2. Pride and Joy (8/13/83, #20 AR)
  3. Texas Flood
  4. Tell Me
  5. Testify
  6. Rude Mood
  7. Mary Had a Little Lamb
  8. Dirty Pool
  9. I’m Cryin’
  10. Lenny

Notes: A reissue adds an interview (SRV Speaks) as well “Tin Pan Alley (aka Roughest Place in Town),” and live version of “Testify,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “Wham!”


Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

While he became “the fallen torchbearer of the ‘80s-‘90s blues revival,” TD2 “Stevie Ray Vaughan was already an underground hero in blues circles and had begun earning national attention for his hard-edged-but-tasteful playing on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album” TD1 when “this legendary 1983 debut” TD2 arrived. “Blues was no longer hip, the way it was in the ‘60s. Texas Flood changed all that, climbing into the Top 40 and spending over half a year on the charts, which was practically unheard of for a blues recording. Vaughan became a genuine star and, in doing so, sparked a revitalization of the blues.” STE

“Produced by legendary talent scout John Hammond,” TD1 Texas Flood “captures the rising guitar star” TD1 “as rockin’ blues purist, paying tribute in his inspired six-string diction to his influences Larry Davis (who wrote the title track), Buddy Guy, Albert King, and Jimi Hendrix.” TD2 In fact, “critics claimed that, no matter how prodigious Vaughan’s instrumental talents were, he didn’t forge a distinctive voice; instead, he wore his influences on his sleeve, whether it was Albert King’s pinched yet muscular soloing or Larry Davis’ emotive singing.” STE “That was sort of the point of Texas Flood. Vaughan didn’t hide his influences; he celebrated them, pumping fresh blood into a familiar genre.” STE

However, “Vaughan's true achievement was finding something personal and emotional by fusing different elements of his idols. Sometimes the borrowing was overt, and other times subtle, but it all blended together into a style that recalled the past while seizing the excitement and essence of the present.” STE

“This album is the kind of raw double shot of blues and rock that made Vaughan one of the 1980s’ best in-concert performers.” TD1 When Vaughan and his band “cut the album over the course of three days in 1982, he had already played his set lists countless times; he knew how to turn this material inside out or goose it up for maximum impact. The album is paced like a club show, kicking off with Vaughan’s two best self-penned songs, Love Struck Baby and Pride and Joy, then settling into a pair of covers, the slow-burning title track and an exciting reading of Howlin’ Wolf’s Tell Me, before building to the climax of Dirty Pool and I’m Crying.” STE

“Vaughan caps the entire thing with” STE “his own contemplative Lenny, a tribute to his wife at the time, … [which] suggests a jazz-fueled complexity that would infuse his later work.” TD2

“Vaughan’s guitar and vocals are a bit brighter and more present” TD2 and “sounds even more dramatic in its remixed and expanded edition.” TD2 “And the newly included bonus numbers (an incendiary studio version of the slow blues Tin Pan Alley that was left off the original release, and live takes of Testify, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and the instrumental Wham! from a 1983 Hollywood concert) illuminate the raw soul and passion that propelled his artistry even when he was under the spell of drug addiction.” TD2


Review Source(s):

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):