Sunday, May 2, 2010

50 years ago: Elmore James “The Sky Is Crying” hit the R&B chart

The Sky Is Crying

Elmore James

Writer(s): Elmore James (see lyrics here)

Released: March 1960

First Charted: May 2, 1960

Peak: 15 RB (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, 24.78 streaming

The Sky Is Crying

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Recorded: 1984

First Charted: November 9, 1991

Peak: 2 AR, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 12.06 video, -- streaming

Awards (Elmore James):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Stevie Ray Vaughan):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Blues singer/songwriter and guitarist Elmore James was born in 1918 in Mississippi. He earned the nickname “King of the Slide Guitar,” offering up interpretations of blues standards like “Dust My Broom,” “Crossroads,” “It Hurts Me Too,” “Rollin’ and Tumblin,’” and “Every Day I Had the Blues.” He also penned some blues classics, most notably “The Sky Is Crying” – one of his four entries on the R&B charts.

Writer Gayle Dean Wardlow wrote that “they mythical stature given to James is quickly growing to equal that of Robert Johnson.” SS Critic Robert Palmer ranks James with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and a few others as “the recorded pinnacle of Chicago blues.” SS

Music historian Steve Sullivan said specifically of “The Sky Is Crying” that it is James’ “greatest original piece” SS and is “among the most electrifying blues recordings of the postwar Chicago era.” SS Record producer Bobby Robinson said it is “a magnificent vehicle for both Elmore’s emotion-packed blues vocal and his ringing slide guitar.” WK

The song has become a blues standard recorded and performed by other blues greatest like Freddie King, Albert King, Eric Clapton, George Thorogood, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Vaughan’s version was recorded in 1984 during sessions for the Couldn’t Stand the Weather album. It was released posthumously in 1991 as the title song from an archival album and reached #2 on the album rock chart. Critic Dan Forte said, “Stevie tips his Clint Eastwood hat to two of his idols: Elmore James…and Albert King…whose influence is evident in every likc and bend.” WK


First posted 1/14/2023.

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