A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Welcome to our series highlighting the music we have here at Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Each week of 2013 we will discuss one of our favorite songs from the collection. Classical or Country, Hip-Hop or Heavy Metal, we’ll be blogging for every taste.
I’m not really a country fan. When I want roots music I usually listen to early blues or jazz, and when I want contemporary music I don’t often look to Nashville. But nothing cuts across musical genres or ingrained biases like great songcraft, and if I couldn’t admit that country is responsible for a handful of the most perfectly crafted songs ever, then I’d have to have a hole in my soul.
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” happens to be my personal favorite. The song has a lot of history. It was written by Fred Rose, an Indiana born songwriter who worked mostly in New York before arriving in Nashville at the age of 45. His earliest hits were in a tin pan alley/vaudeville vein, including comedienne Sophie Tucker’s infamous “Red Hot Mama.” But it’s for his collaboration with Roy Acuff, as Nashville music publishers Acuff-Rose, that he is most remembered.
Acuff was the first to record “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” but many have put their stamp on it, including Hank Williams, Gene Vincent, Eddy Arnold, Kitty Wells, and even Elvis. However, none of these can touch Willie Nelson’s version from 1975’s Red Headed Stranger. His delivery of the simple, straight forward lyric is so heartfelt and the arrangement underneath it so spare and subtle that you can’t help but be moved. Checking my current iPod’s play count gives me 37 listens, but I’ve probably heard it a couple hundred times in all, and I’m positive it’s gotten to me each and every listen.
Check out Sophie Tucker singing one of Fred Rose’s earlier hits, “Red Hot Mama.” Sure, it’s no “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” but it is public domain and a lot of fun to boot:
Review by Matthew