Stormy Weather (song)

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Stormy Weather on tenor saxophone

"Stormy Weather" is a 1933 song written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Ethel Waters first sang it at The Cotton Club night club in Harlem in 1933 and recorded it that year, and in the same year it was sung in London by Elisabeth Welch and recorded by Frances Langford. It has since been performed by artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Clodagh Rodgers, and Reigning Sound and most famously by Lena Horne and Billie Holiday. Leo Reisman's orchestra version had the biggest hit on records (with Arlen himself as vocalist), although Ethel Waters's recorded version also sold well.[citation needed] "Stormy Weather" was featured in the 1943 movie of the same name.

The song tells of disappointment, as the lyrics, "Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky", show someone pining for her man to return. The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer: "stormy weather since my man and I ain't together, keeps raining all the time."

The original handwritten lyrics, along with a painting by Ted Koehler, were featured on the (US) Antiques Roadshow on 24 January 2011, where they were appraised for between $50,000 and $100,000. The lyrics show a number of crossings out and corrections.[1]

Ethel Waters's recording of the song in 1933 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress honored the song by adding it to the National Recording Registry in 2004.

Other versions[edit]

  • Duke Ellington recorded an instrumental version of the song in 1933 and another version with singer Ivie Anderson in 1940.[2] He also featured a vocal version with Ivy (aka Ivie) Anderson in his 1933 Paramount short film Bundle of Blues.[3]
  • Lena Horne first recorded the song in 1941 for RCA Victor. In 1943, she recorded another version of Stormy Weather for the movie of the same name (which she made while on loan to 20th Century Fox from MGM). Horne recorded the song at least five times throughout her career. Horne's version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.[4]
  • Judy Garland recorded a studio version of the song for her "London Sessions" with Capitol. Most notable is her live performance of the song recorded for the Grammy Award-winning album Judy At Carnegie Hall.[citation needed]
  • Viola Wills covered the song in 1982, it peaked at number four on the dance charts.[5]

Further reading[edit]

  • The chapter "Stormy Weather" in the book Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs by Will Friedwald (New York: Pantheon Books, 2002).


  1. ^ Antiques Roadshow 24 January 2011
  2. ^ A Duke Ellington Panorama
  3. ^ Stratemann, Dr. Klaus (1992). Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film. Copenhagen: JazzMedia ApS. pp. 59–64. ISBN 87-88043-34-7. 
  4. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 281. 

External links[edit]