The Sky Is Crying - Gary B B Coleman (1992)
This week's LCM classic is an excellent super smooth cover of 'The Sky Is Crying' by Gary B B Coleman. The song is a fantastic blues standard written originally by 'the king of slide guitar' Elmore James, which he first released in 1960. Called "one of his most durable compositions, it became a R&B record chart hit and has been interpreted and recorded by numerous artists.
Originally a local musician turned blues promoter and session musician, Gary B B Coleman recorded his debut album in 1986, which was re-released by Ichiban Records. He issued several other albums and produced most of Ichiban's blues catalogue until his death, in 1994. On many occasions, Coleman undertook multi-instrumentalist duties in the recording studio. He acknowledged both B.B. King, with his "B.B." moniker, and a fellow Texan, Freddie King
The original version of "The Sky Is Crying" is a slow-tempo twelve-bar blues notated in 12/8 time in the key of C. An impromptu song inspired by a Chicago downpour during the recording session, it features James' slide guitar work and vocals. Accompanying James is his longtime backing band, the Broomdusters: J. T. Brown on saxophone, Johnny Joneson piano, Odie Payne on drums, and Homesick James on bass. James' unique slide guitar sound on the recording has generated some debate; Homesick James attributed it to a recording studio technique, others have suggested a different amplifier or guitar setup, and Ry Cooder felt that it was an altogether different guitar than James' usual Kayacoustic with an attached pickup.
The song, listed as "Elmo James and His Broomdusters", reached number 15 on Billboard magazine's Hot R&B Sides chart in 1960, making it James' last chart showing before his death in 1963. James recorded a variation of the song, "The Sun Is Shining", in April 1960, five months after the recording date of "The Sky Is Crying" (although some places "Sun" as a precursor to "Sky", possibly because the bulk of James' recordings for Fire/Fury/Enjoy took place after the Chess recordings).