Stormy Weather (song)

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"Stormy Weather" is a 1933 torch 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. Also in 1933, for the first time the entire floor revue from Harlem's Cotton Club went on tour, playing theatres in principal cities. The revue was originally called The Cotton Club Parade of 1933 but for the road tour it was changed to Stormy Weather Revue; it contained the song "Stormy Weather", which was sung by Adelaide Hall.[1]

In September 1933, the group Comedian Harmonists released their German cover version, titled "Ohne Dich" ("Without You") with lyrics that are quite different.[2] The song has since been performed by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Clodagh Rodgers, Reigning Sound, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, The Spaniels and others. Leo Reisman's orchestra version had the biggest hit on records (with Arlen himself as vocalist), although Ethel Waters' recorded version also sold well.[3] "Stormy Weather" was performed by Horne in the 1943 film Stormy Weather, a big, all-star show for World War II soldiers.[4]

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.[original research?] The weather is a metaphor for the feelings of the singer:[original research?] "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 version of Antiques Roadshow on January 24, 2011, where they were appraised for between $50,000 and $100,000. The lyrics show a number of crossings out and corrections.[5]

Ethel Waters' recording of the song in 1933 was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003, and the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry in 2004. Also in 2004, Horne's version finished at number 30 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American movies.

According to the Acoustic Music organization, the version by the Five Sharps (1952)[6] "is one of the rarest of all R&B records. Only three 78rpm and no 45rpm copies are known to exist".[7]

Notable recordings[edit]


  1. ^ "Adelaide Hall with Cotton Club revue", article in The Afro-American, September 23, 1933, p. 18.
  2. ^ "Detailed information on "Ohne Dich"".
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 440. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  4. ^ Selections from the Katherine Dunham Collection. "Stormy Weather". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  5. ^ ""Stormy Weather" Working Lyrics & Koehler Painting | Antiques Roadshow". PBS. 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  6. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Five Sharps - Stormy Weather (RARE) (1952)". YouTube. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "Timeline of Musical Styles & Guitar History". Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 405–407. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  9. ^ "Ellington Titles". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  10. ^ Stratemann, Dr. Klaus (1992). Duke Ellington Day by Day and Film by Film. Copenhagen: JazzMedia ApS. pp. 59–64. ISBN 87-88043-34-7.
  11. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  12. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  13. ^ "The London Sessions". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  14. ^ "Rufus Wainwright at Carnegie Hall: More Rainbows Than Stormy Weather". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  15. ^ "A Lot to Learn from 'Judy at Carnegie Hall'". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 281.

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).

External links[edit]