Etta James: “Stormy Weather”
Trying to get back into the swing of things after a weather-disrupted week last week, today’s song is dedicated to Etta James, one of the all-time great R&B singers, who passed away this past Friday at the age of 73. Few voices in popular music can compare to James’ bluesy, soulful belt, which could go from a beautiful croon to a throaty shout and back again within moments, and you couldn’t imagine anyone else singing it any other way.
Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins) lived a stormy kind of life — drugs, alcohol, tumultuous relationships, the works — and that, combined with my far more trivial storm-related tribulations last week, makes her take on “Stormy Weather” seem like a fitting song to choose for the occasion. It appears on her classic 1961 album, At Last! — her first album on the Chess label and very possibly the best album of her career — an album so good that “Stormy Weather” just seems like part of the flow, not standing out as the highlight that it would on any lesser album.
Etta will be missed.