The Sky Is Crying
“The Sky Is Crying” is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and enduring blues songs of all time. Originally written and recorded by Elmore James in 1959, the song has been covered and interpreted by countless artists, including blues legend Albert King. In this section, we will explore the composition and recording of the song, as well as its legacy and impact on the blues genre.
“The Sky Is Crying” is a slow-tempo twelve-bar blues song in 12/8 time, written in the key of C. The lyrics were inspired by a Chicago rainstorm during the recording session, and James sings about waiting in tears for his lost love. The song features James’ distinctive slide guitar playing, which is accompanied by his longtime backing band, the Broomdusters. The lineup includes J.T. Brown on saxophone, Johnny Jones on piano, Odie Payne on drums, and Homesick James on bass. The recording has generated some debate about James’ slide guitar sound, with some attributing it to a recording studio technique, while others suggest it was a different amplifier or guitar setup.
“The Sky Is Crying” was released as a single in 1960 and reached number 15 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Sides chart, becoming James’ last charting hit before his death in 1963. James recorded a variation of the song, “The Sun Is Shining,” in April 1960, five months after recording “The Sky Is Crying.” In 1991, the original recording was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the “Classics of Blues Recordings” category.
Albert King Renditions
Albert King recorded “The Sky Is Crying” for his album Years Gone By in 1969, using a fretted approach on guitar instead of James’ signature slide. Stevie Ray Vaughan also recorded several versions of the song with his backing band, Double Trouble, during the 1980s. Vaughan’s versions were not released until posthumous compilations in the 1990s, but they became fan favorites and helped to introduce the song to a new generation of blues fans. Vaughan’s interpretation of the song pays homage to both Elmore James and Albert King, demonstrating the song’s lasting influence on the blues genre.