Downhearted Blues

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"Down Hearted Blues"
Sheet music for "Down Hearted Blues"
Single by Alberta Hunter
B-side "Gonna Have You, Ain't Gonna Leave You Alone"
Released 1922 (1922)
Format 10" 78 rpm record
Recorded New York City, July 1922
Genre Blues
Length 3:01
Label Paramount (Cat. no. 12005-A)
Writer(s) Alberta Hunter, Lovie Austin
Performed by Alberta Hunter (1922)

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"Downhearted Blues" is a blues song composed by Alberta Hunter and Lovie Austin. The first line immediately sets the theme for the song: "Gee but it's hard to love someone when that someone don't love you".

Alberta Hunter used to sing it during her engagement at the Chicago Dreamland Cafe, where she performed with Joe "King" Oliver's band. She also made a recording of the song in 1922.

It was recorded by blues singer Bessie Smith (vocal) and Clarence Williams (piano) February 16, 1923. Released as Bessie Smith's first single (along with B-side "Gulf Coast Blues"), it sold 780,000 records in the first six months and would go on to sell 2 million copies.[1]

Smith's recording was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2002.[2] The board selects songs in an annual basis that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[3]

It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001[4] and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock.[5] Smith's recording received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2006.[6]

"Downhearted Blues" has later been played by several musicians, among others:[7] Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra, Eva Taylor, Lucille Hegamin, Edna Hicks, Hazel Meyers, Mildred Bailey & Her Alley Cats, Cab Calloway & His Orchestra, Teddy Wilson, Kid Ory, Juanita Hall, Ella Fitzgerald, Son House, Teresa Brewer.


  1. ^ Britannica Educational Publishing (2009-10-01). The 100 Most Influential Musicians of All Time, p. 162. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 9781615300563. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  2. ^ "2002 Registry choices". 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  3. ^ "Librarian of Congress Names 50 Sound Recordings to the Inaugural National Recording Registry". 2003-01-27. Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  4. ^ "Songs of the Century". Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  5. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". Retrieved 2013-09-26. 
  6. ^ "Grammy Hall of Fame Awards". The Recording Academy. 2006. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Downhearted Blues"[dead link] at Allmusic

External links[edit]