A few days ago I was taken by surprise by a pair of blue eyes. As I lost myself in a reverie about eyes being the windows of the soul, the eyes have it, and eyes on the prize, I thought about "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," one of my favorite songs of all time.
Thank god for YouTube, which is a treasure chest of music remembered, forgotten and new.
Roy Acuff did the first version of "Blue Eyes" the year I was born; his is a more uptempo version of the Fred Rose song. Hank Williams followed in this transcription from his old radio show, year unknown (gotta be very early '50s or late '40s, because Williams died New Year's Eve, 1952).
Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes" is the one I heard first when it was released in the early 1970s. This version from Austin, TX, is Willie redoing the song as only he can. He would never be content to sing the same version over and over; he reinvents music. His is a lot closer to Hank Williams', which shows the evolution of a great song. Williams and Nelson both understood that "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" is a lament, a song about loss, not a hillbilly dance tune.
Finally, Sheryl Crow takes Willie's version and makes it her own song. But she continues on with the song as lament: "When we kissed goodbye and parted, I knew we'd never meet again." Powerful words in a simple melody, made so much more by the interpretations of the great artists who have sung this special song.
Roy Acuff, 1947
Sheryl Crow, 2004