“Blues in the Night” was written by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Johnny Mercer for a 1941 movie originally titled Hot Nocturne which became Blues in the Night because of the song’s appeal. The song, nominated for an Academy Award, was featured in the movie as background music, as an instrumental played by the on-camera band, and sung by William Gillespie.
The film is little known and seldom shown, although most reviewers praise this musical drama about a jazz band that gets involved with gangsters. Playing band members are Priscilla Lane and Jack Carson (husband and wife with problems), Richard Whorf, and a young Elia Kazan. Lloyd Nolan plays the gangster who hires them to play his club, and Betty Field is his hard-hearted ex-girlfriend. (The Broadway show of the same name, which opened in June, 1982, is an entirely different production with music by a variety of composers and lyricists.)
My mama done tol' me, when I was in knee-pants My mama done tol' me, " son a woman'll sweet talk" And she'll give ya the big eye, but when the sweet talkin's done A woman's a two-face, a worrisome thing who'll leave ya to sing the blues in the night
Now the rain's a-fallin', hear the train's a-callin, "whooee!" (my mama done tol' me) hear dat lonesome whistle blowin' 'cross the trestle, "whooee!" (my mama done tol' me) a-whooee-ah-whooee ol' clickety-clack's a-echoin' back thr blues in the night The evenin' breeze will start the trees to cryin' and the moon will hide it's light when you get the blues in the night Take my word, the mockingbird'll sing the saddest kind o' song, he knows things are wrong, and he's right
From natchez to mobile, from memphis to st. joe, wherever the four winds blow I been in some big towns an' heard me some big talk, but there is one thing I know A woman's a two-face, a worrisome thing who'll leave ya to sing the blues in the night
So, let me give ya fair warnin' You may feel fine in the mornin' But look out for those blues in the night