"Willow Weep for Me" is a popular song composed in 1932 by Ann Ronell, who also wrote the lyrics. The song form is AABA and it is written in 4/4 time, although it is occasionally adapted for 3/4 waltz time, as on recordings by Phil Woods (Musique du Bois, 1974) and Dr. Lonnie Smith (Jungle Soul, 2006.) It is mostly known as a jazz standard, having been recorded first by Ted Fio Rito (with vocal by Muzzy Marcellino) in October 1932 and by Paul Whiteman (with vocal by Irene Taylor) the following month. Both were hits in December 1932.
It was a major hit for the British duo Chad & Jeremy. In January 1965, it reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and went to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was included on their Yesterday's Gone album and many subsequent compilations.
One account of the inspiration for the song is that, during her time at Radcliffe College, Ronell "had been struck by the loveliness of the willow trees on campus, and this simple observation became the subject of an intricate song."
The song was rejected by publishers for several reasons. First, the song is dedicated to George Gershwin. A dedication to another writer was disapproved of at the time, so the first person presented with the song for publication, Saul Bornstein, passed it to Irving Berlin, who accepted it. Other reasons stated for its slow acceptance are that it was written by a woman and that its construction was unusually complex for a composition that was targeted at a commercial audience (i.e. radio broadcast, record sales and sheet music sales). An implied tempo change in the fifth bar, a result of a switch from the two eighth notes and an eighth-note triplet opening in each of the first four bars to just four eighth notes opening the fifth, then back to two eighth notes and an eighth-note triplet opening the sixth bar, which then has a more offset longer note than any of the previous bars, was one cause of Bornstein's concern. Notable recordings continued into the 1950s, starting with Stan Kenton's version with June Christy.