Downhearted Blues

Alberta Hunter

About Downhearted Blues

"Downhearted Blues" is a blues song composed by American jazz singer Alberta Hunter and musician Lovie Austin. The first line sets the theme for the song: "Gee but it's hard to love someone when that someone don't love you". Hunter sang it during her engagement at the Dreamland Cafe, in Chicago, where she performed with Joe "King" Oliver's band. She made a recording of the song in 1922. Blues singer Bessie Smith recorded the song with piano accompaniment by Clarence Williams on February 16, 1923. It was released as her first single (with "Gulf Coast Blues" on the B-side); 780,000 copies were sold in the first six months, and eventually 2 million copies were sold. The National Recording Preservation Board included Smith's recording in the inaugural National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2002. The board recognizes songs that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." In 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America, with the National Endowment for the Arts, included it at number 315 in the list of the Top 365 "Songs of the Century". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame identified it as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". In 2006, Smith's recording received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award."Downhearted Blues" has been recorded by numerous other musicians, including Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra, Eva Taylor, Lucille Hegamin, Edna Hicks, Hazel Meyers, Mildred Bailey & Her Alley Cats, Cab Calloway & His Orchestra, Teddy Wilson, Kid Ory, Juanita Hall, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (sung by Wills, a longtime Bessie Smith fan), Son House, and Teresa Brewer. 


Year:
2009
2:51
60 

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My man mistreated me, and he drove me from his door
Lord he mistreated me, and he drove me from his door
But the Good Book says you've got to reap just what you sow

I got the world in a jug, got the supper? right here in my hand
I got the world in a jug, got the supper? right here in my hand
And if you want me sweet papa you gotta come under my command

Say I ain't never loved but three men in my life
Lord I ain't never loved but three men in my life
It was my father and my brother and a man that wretched my life

Lord it may be a week and it may be a month or two
I said it may be a week and it may be a month or two
All the dirt you're doin' to me sho' comin' home to you

Lord I walked the floor, hang my head and cried
Lord I walked the floor, hang my head and cried
Had the down hearted blues, and I couldn't be satisfied

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Alberta Hunter

Alberta Hunter (April 1, 1895 – October 17, 1984) was an American blues singer, songwriter, and nurse. Her career had started back in the early 1920s, and from there on, she became a successful jazz and blues recording artist, being critically acclaimed to the ranks of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith. In the 1950s, she retired from performing and entered the medical field, only to successfully resume her singing career in her 80s. more »

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Written by: LOVIE AUSTIN, ALBERTA HUNTER

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind


7 facts about this song

Alberta Hunter Facts
Alberta Hunter was an influential jazz and blues singer, and she was a co-writer of the song "Downhearted Blues." - Hunter recorded "Down-hearted Blues" in the late 1920s, and it is considered an important track in her discography. - Despite her popularity dwindling in the mid-20th century, she experienced a successful comeback in her 80s, performing at venues like Carnegie Hall.
Bessie Smith Facts
Bessie Smith's rendition of "Downhearted Blues" in 1923 was a major hit, selling over 800,000 copies in its first six months. - Smith, often called the "Empress of the Blues", played a pivotal role in popularizing the song and the blues genre in general. - Her version of "Downhearted Blues" was one of the 50 recordings chosen in 2002 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
Cab Calloway Facts
Cab Calloway was a renowned jazz singer and bandleader known for his vibrant showmanship, though he did not officially record a version of "Downhearted Blues". - His style and charisma greatly influenced later artists in the jazz and swing genres. - He is best known for the song “Minnie the Moocher,” not "Downhearted Blues."
Ella Fitzgerald Facts
Ella Fitzgerald, known as the "First Lady of Song," was a renowned jazz vocalist, though she did not officially record a version of "Downhearted Blues". - She won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums during her career. - Fitzgerald was famous for her wide vocal range, improvisational ability, and interpretative skills.
Mildred Bailey Facts
Mildred Bailey was an influential jazz singer during the 1930s, though she did not officially record a version of "Downhearted Blues". - She was known for her light, clear voice and her ability to imbue songs with emotion and complexity. - Bailey was a significant figure in the integration of white and black musical styles in the early 20th century.
Son House Facts
Son House was an influential Delta blues singer and guitarist, known for his emotional and raw vocal style. - Unlike the other artists mentioned, House's version of "Downhearted Blues" was less jazz-influenced and more in keeping with traditional blues. - He was a significant influence on many other blues musicians, including Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
Teresa Brewer Facts
Teresa Brewer was a popular singer in the 1950s and 1960s, known for her hits like "Music! Music! Music!", though she did not record a version of "Downhearted Blues". - She had a distinct high-pitched voice that became her trademark in the music industry. - Brewer's repertoire spanned a variety of styles, from pop to country, and later in her career, she recorded several albums of classic blues and jazz songs.

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