Gold Soundz: "The Sky Is Crying"

About 8 years ago I went through my “blues phase”, encouraged no doubt by Nirvana‘s cover of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”. In 2000 I hadn’t yet discovered the internet as a source to find new music, and almost believed the cliché that the music worth listening to had already been made. I know, I know…now I’m pushing new music down your throats a few times a week. But back then I was very happy to go digging through the archives, so to speak, to get my fix. I explored all sorts of roots music, from blues to bluegrass; jazz, folk, soul, and classic country. I came away with a ton of new (to me) music - all culturally important and highly enjoyable. Otis Redding, Hank Williams, John Coltrane, and Bill Monroe, among many others, became staples of my listening.

One of my favorites from that era of my evolution as a music fan is Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”. I didn’t get into a wide variety of blues artists, but the ones I did I dove into head first - Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, & Mississippi John Hurt in particular. There’s plenty I could get into with those others as well, but perhaps that’s for a different post.

Long considered the best slide guitar player of the postwar era, Elmore James’s playing - and his singing - was always incredibly powerful. He has influenced nearly every bluesman to pick up a slide guitar since, and his music is a direct link to the blues-revival of the 1960s. Had he lived long enough to experience it before dying of heart failure, he’d very well be thought of with the same reverence today as Muddy Waters or B.B. King.

“The Sky Is Crying” is the perfect vehicle for James’ groundbreaking slide guitar to be appreciated. It’s a slow blues number with the vivid images of tears and rain to help get its message across - a familiar one to fans of the genre. He saw his baby, and she made him feel good. Now she’s gone, and he’s got a bad feeling she don’t love him no more. Three short verses and some killer guitar are all James needs to get his pain across.

MP3 :: The Sky Is Crying
(from The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James. Buy here)

The late great Stevie Ray Vaughn did this song proud as well. You can find it on the posthumous release The Sky Is Crying. Well worth seeking out.

The songs in these Gold Soundz posts are some of my all-time favorites. Previously:

The Jam - "In The City"
Slobberbone - "Gimme Back My Dog"
John Prine - "Lake Marie"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "Holland, 1945"

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