Hank Williams knew a terrible secret, and he revealed it in his songs and performances. He knew that humans have a core of fear where love is a fleeting and treacherous thing, where redemption lies in death, and where loneliness and isolation is the human fate. In Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings, he fearlessly explores this core, leading us on the harrowing journey that ultimately claimed his life. . . . . . . . .Hank Williams understood loneliness as an essential part – maybe the essential part – of the human condition, the surest path to the true self. He feared loneliness but couldn’t resist its embrace; in his exploration of loneliness, he ironically touched the most fearful part of all of us. Perhaps the knowledge that someone else understood that part of us and could express it as art eases our burden and lightens our step. Certainly, such empathy allowed one soul the redemption it never knew in life…
Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams’
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Citizen K, Hank Williams, Hank Williams as vocalist, Hank Williams influence, Hank Williams songwriter, Hank Williams' artistic legacy on January 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Fred Rose, Hank Williams, Hank Williams biography, Hank Williams health, Hank Williams live, Hank Williams performance, Hank Williams Vancouver, Lovesick Blues, memories of Hank Williams on January 27, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Here’s a good description of an appearance by Hank Williams in 1949. It comes from the Vancouver Sun which is collecting reports of memorable events in the city to celebrate the papers 100th anniversary. Columnists John Mackie is asking readers to share their memories from years gone by:
One of my faves came from Art Currie, who was among the lucky people who saw country and western great Hank Williams perform at the PNE’s Exhibition Gardens on Sept. 13, 1949.
Neither The Sun nor Province covered the show, so how the gig went was a mystery. In fact, few people had any idea Williams had even played Vancouver until my friend Dave Chesney came across a mention of it on a Williams timeline. So I found the original ad, wrote an item, and Currie emailed to say he’d been to the show.
Currie still has the program for the touring show of Grand Ole Opry stars like Williams, Ernest Tubb, Cowboy Copas and Minnie Pearl.
“I actually went to see Ernest Tubb, who was my favourite guy,” recounts Currie, 88. “I’d heard of Hank Williams. He had a couple of songs (that were hits). Ernest Tubb didn’t show up at the show – he was sick. But Hank Williams, the way he did his thing, I more or less fell in love with Hank Williams right then. I was a fan of his ’til the day he died.”
Currie recalls Williams doing a 20-to 30-minute set.
“He sang the Lovesick Blues,” he said. “I remember he said, ‘When I showed this to my producer when I came to do a record, I sang that and the guy told me that’s the worst’s thing I’ve ever heard.’
“(Williams) was a funny guy. He was a tall, thin, pale guy, long black sideburns. He didn’t look like a well guy, even back then. He was never well, I don’t think. But he lived awhile after that.
“So he did Lovesick Blues, and Wedding Bells. He told some jokes in between, even with his sad songs.”
This remembrance is notable in that it represents Hank with ‘Lovesick Blues’ just as he was breaking through. Many of the great hits are still to come. But even at this time over three years before his death Hank is described as obviously not being a healthy looking person.
I am always shocked when I read these reports. Whether it was his record company MGM, The Opry, publisher Acuff Rose, family, or musician friends, he was exploited for his money-making ability, ‘sliced and sold like bologna” as he once said, with no concern for him as a person. If there had been a few true friends was saw him as a troubled genius and put his welfare number one, he might have been saved. I know Fred Rose sincerely tried to help but seemed to drop out of the picture in the final year as Hank fought his demons and the horrible aftereffects of spinal fusion surgery.
We all know the tragic ending.
But in 1949 some guy from Vancouver could see all was not well for Hank Williams.
One of the unfortunate aspects of the Hank Williams story following his death is the discovery realization that there is almost no video of Hank Williams in performance.
Ironically, because he made a movie short in the early thirties we have some excellent very clear video and audio of Jimmie Rodgers, even though he died 20 years before Hank Williams. And there is a lot of video of Hank Williams’ contemporaries such as Hank Snow, and Left Frizzel recorded on TV shows which were up and running by the early to mid fifties.
Hank Williams video with real live sound is sadly limited to his two appearances on the Kate Smith Show from New York in March and April 1952. Film of an earlier appearance on the Perry Como show may exist but has not surfaced for public consumption. And he also appeared on WSM TV in Nashville but apparently video has been destroyed or just not shared. You have to remember that TV at that time would have been like radio and simply sent out on the airwaves with no back up.
The Kate Smith kinescopes, in which a film camera records off a TV screen, contain only 2 songs with Hank performing alone, ‘Hey Good Lookin’ and ‘Cold, Cold Heart, plus one stunning never to be forgotten duet with Anita Carter on ‘I Can’t Help it if I’m Still in Love with You’. Finally, the Grand Old Opry cast including Hank sing ‘I Saw The Light’, and ‘Glory Bound Days’.
On this post, I am putting up a long clip of 6 minutes or so featuring June Carter because I’m sure many of you would love to see her as a young woman in 1952 many years before her long marriage to Johnny Cash. Hank comes in at about the 4 minute mark.
Finally I want to note that I fully realize that Hank Williams fans of long-standing are fully aware of these videos and have watched them many times.
But by far the majority of visitors to this site come from search engines and may be looking for Hank for the first time. We so desperately need a new generation of Hank Williams fans. I try not to assume that young people know any of a the background. Seeing these videos for the first time here on this site could be a moving and life altering experience.
I will post more videos in Part 2.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Hank Williams, Hank Williams as vocalist, Hank Williams live, Hank Williams recordings, Hank Williams: The Lost Concerts Limited Collectors Editions, Time Life on July 23, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Time Life will release two live Hank Williams’ concerts on CD in October.
One of these is the famous Sunset Park concert recorded in West Grove Pennsylvania in July 1952. This concert has been available on some websites featuring rare material, and was on You Tube until quite recently.
The second concert was recorded at Niagara Falls New York in April 1952.
The CD will also include a radio interview recorded in Spetember 1951.
The CD will officially be called: Hank Williams: The Lost Concerts Limited Collector’s Edition
Here are the track listing I took from American Songwriter website.
Niagara Falls, New York: April 25, 1952.
1. Comedy with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys
2. I Can’t Help It
3. Jerry Rivers and the Drifting Cowboys: Orange Blossom Special
4. Why Don’t You Love Me
5. Are You Walking and A Talking
6. The Funeral
7. Hey Good Looking
8. Cold, Cold Heart
9. Lovesick Blues
Sunset Park, West Grove, PA: July 13, 1952.
11. Hey Good Looking
12. Comedy with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys
13. Jerry Rivers and the Drifting Cowboys: Fire On The Mountain
14. Lonesome Whistle
16. Long Gone Lonesome Blues
17. Half As Much
18. I Saw The Light
19. Lovesick Blues
20. Interview: Hank interviewed by Mack Sanders, KFBI, Wichita, Kansas, September 14, 1951.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Death of Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Hank Williams biography, Hank Williams movie, Hank Williams The Last Ride, Harry Thomason, Henry Thomas as Hank Williams, Rex Reed, The Last Ride, The New York Observer on July 2, 2012 | 1 Comment »
With ‘The Last Ride’ now having opened in some major centers including New York, reviews seem largely negative but there is one genuine rave from a respected film critic which I have saved to the end..
Writers are quite dismissive of the script which many think, in the words of Andrew Lapin at National Public Radio is “short on actual information about Hank Williams”, and makes “Hank Williams takes a back seat” in the film. Pretty tough from an organization that is usually a Hank booster.
In a magazine called ‘Film Journal’ Daniel Egan says the “film doesn’t have much of interest about the singer”. And ‘Village Voices’ Mark Holcombe says the movie has “taken liberties with the facts”.
These writers are all concerned, along with I suppose many true Hank Williams’ fans, that the main story is really fictionalized. For example, the character who is the young teenage driver on the fatal trip doesn’t know who Hank Williams is. There is a way too much attention on that character, played by Jesse James, according to a lot of critics. ‘The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis goes so far as to call it a “low budget road movie”.
Another strong criticism and all and writers just hate this,it that no actual Hank Williams’ recordings are used anywhere in the movie. You never hear his voice. The soundtrack, they say, is mediocre and therefore the movie fails to explain who Hank Williams is, and how an important figure in American musical history he has become.
On the positive side, most of the reviewers I have read so far have very positive things to say about Henry Thomas’ portrayal of Hank Williams which clearly rises far above the rest of the movie and makes the best of the weak script.
But there is one movie critic and a pretty important one who must have made the producers overjoyed. Rex Reed a famous film reviewer writing in ‘The New York Observer’ calls Thomas’ performance ”a star performance and a poignant experience”. He calls it a “fascinating film, satisfying and sincere”. But he also says the producers should have used original Hank Williams recordings.
Here are a couple of longer quotes to give you the tone of Reed’s rave review.
The Last Ride, carefully directed by Harry Thomason and skillfully written with chords and spaces for humming and breathing by Howie Klausner and Dub Cornett, hauntingly and sensitively negotiates the final three days in the life and death of a legendary character of mythic proportions, warts and all.
Still, it’s a fascinating film that I enjoyed thoroughly. The Last Ride doesn’t come with a break-the-bank budget and full-page marketing displays, but it is well worth looking for if you’re in the mood for a movie that is captivating, an evocation of a time when the South and its music were on the cusp of change, and just a little bit different. It’s satisfying and sincere in ways most of the big-budget junk currently taking up space on summer marquees never dreamed of.
I should say that Reed accepts more of the script as being factual than some of the other critics. But beyond any doubt this is the best written review I have seen so far. The use of a quote from ‘I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry’ in the ‘New York Observer’ headline is heartbreaking.
Here’s a direct quote from the movie that a lot of true Hank Williams’s fans will understand and appreciate. About his career and fame, the script writers have Hank say: “Not a damn bit of it matters for nothin.”
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Hank Williams, Hank Williams biography, Hank Williams influence, Hank Williams movie, Hank Williams The Last Ride, Harry Thomason, Jett Williams, The New School on June 10, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Hank Williams’ daughter Jett Williams, the film’s director Harry Thomason and the producer Benjy Gaither will attend a free first showing of ‘The Last Ride’ in New York City on June 20th. Seating is first come first served.
The three will participate in a panel discussion following the showing at The New School at 66 West 12th Street New York NY at 6pm.
The title of the panel discussion seems very appropriate: I Saw the Light: Hank Williams’ Sixty Years of Influence on American music.
As listed in the previous post, the film will open for one week at Cinema Village at 22 East 12th Street on June 22.
Here is a link to the press release from the school.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Death of Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Hank Williams biography, Hank Williams movie, Hank Williams The Last Ride, The Death of Hank Williams, The Last Ride on June 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
The Last Ride which has been covered extensively on this blog will open at a number of historic theaters and a more general release this month (June 2012). Here is the historic theatre line-up taken from the website:
|June 1-3||Strand Theatre||38 W. Franklin Street, Shelbyville, IN 46176||317.421.2787|
|June 1-3||Corning Opera House||710 Davis Ave, Corning, IA 50841||641.418.8037|
|June 1-7||ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks Campus||101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA 18015||610.297.7100|
|June 2||The Ellen Theatre||17 West Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715||406.585.5885|
|June 2-3||7th Street Theatre||313 7th Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550||360.537.7400|
|June 7||McPherson Opera House||219 South Main Street, McPherson, KS 67460||620.241.1952|
|June 9||Sheridan Opera House||110 North Oak, Telluride, CO 81435||970.728.6363|
|June 15-18||Lincoln Theatre Foundation||313 W. Kincaid Street, Mount Vernon, WA 98273||360.336.8955|
|June 29||The Sherman Theater||524 Main Street, Stroudsburg, PA 18360||570.420.2808|
|July 19-20||Carolina Civic Center Historical Theater||315 North Chestnut Street, Lumberton, NC 28358||910.738.4339|
Here are some regular theatres:
|6/22/2012||New York||Cinema Village ONE WEEK ONLY||22 East 12th St., New York, NY 10003|
|6/29/2012||Los Angeles||Laemmle NoHo 7||5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601|
|7/27/2012||Phoenix||Harkins Shea 14||7354 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260|
|8/10/2012||Atlanta||Lefont Sandy Springs 8||5920 Roswell Rd., Atlanta, GA 30328|
|8/10/2012||Austin||Regal Arbor 8 @Great Hills||9828 Great Hills Trail, Suite 800, Austin, TX 78759|
‘The Last Ride’ website with a newly designed logo can be found here.
Hank Williams has a part in one of the big blockbuster summer movies of 2012.
Six Hank Williams songs are used in the soundtrack of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ a Wes Anderson film opening across North America in the next 2 weeks. The film had the prestigious honor of being the opening film of the Cannes film festival.
Early reports indicate the film is setting box office records in its limited release so far. (May 30, 2012)
The soundtrack album features 3 Hank Williams songs:
Long Gone Lonesome Blues
But there are also 3 songs which aren’t on the soundtrack album but ARE in the movie:
Take These Chains from My Heart
Cold Cold Heart.
From my reading about the film I should say that these songs are not played in their entirety at full volume as the movie is shown as is often the case on soundtracks. This Hank Williams film appearance may be handled as it was on of that great American film ‘The Last Picture Show’. As all Hank fans will recall, his dramatic appearances in that film came as a part of the film’s memorable realism. The voice of Hank Williams and other great 1950′s stars flow naturally from car radios, kitchen radios, radio consoles, television sets and bar room jukeboxes as the movie’s dramatic scenes unfold.
Hank’s contribution to ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ could be similar. I invite anyone who has been an early bird viewer to let us know in the comments below just how the Hank music is handled in this film.
Who will join Hank Williams on this movie appearance? Well there’s Francoise Hardy a mid 1960′s French pop singer, Benjamin Britten, Mozart, Alexandre Desplat, and Leonard Bernstein.
Millions of people will see this major summer movie release, millions have seen it already. And as those captive audiences are sitting absorbed in their theater seats, suddenly the haunting, piercing yet intimate, harsh but yet rich and profound voice of Hank Williams will reach out with all of its artistic power and capture a new generation.
As we all know, Hank Williams lived only 29 years and died January 1,1953. Here we are nearly 60 years later. Who can forget the haunting performance of ‘Alone and Forsaken’ by Neil Young on the Haiti Benefit a few years ago. There are line ups of contemporary singers coming forward to sing on the ‘Lost Notebooks’ album. The release of the stunning ‘Mother’s Best Recordings’ made entertainment news in media around the world.. The posthumous Pulitzer Prize, now a Wes Anderson film.
There were many big country stars, pop stars, movie stars even TV stars who made their mark along with Hank Williams in the last few years of he 1940′s. Few are ever seen as active members of the arts or entertainment worlds here in the second decade of the next century. Hanks stands above them all as he will in centuries to come.
The trailer does not include the Hank segments.
I hope someone who has seen the movie will write a comment below on how Hank is used in the movie and whether it has been a real boost to his reputation. Is it handled well and does he make an impact?
This comment from Hank Sundell was posted on this website under an article I wrote about the recent Steve Earle novel which includes the ghost of Hank Williams as a character.
I thought the comment was so real and meaningful that I would give it a post of its own:
Hank Williams was and still is my hero. His voice and songs brought much comfort to us who served in the army and later in a army hospital. He was blue collar and down right a nice guy. There will be only one voice like his. God Bless you Hank where ever you are but I suspect on a cloud somewhere bringing tears to our eyes. You are sir an important part of my recovery as I was in Brooke General Hospital and had the privilege of listening to that wonderful God Given voice. There will be only one Hank Williams. Where ever you are Hank I love you, the rest of the world loves you…
Hank Williams was featured this week on the Google homepage Valentine’s Day special cartoon and link, with its millions and millions of visitors around the world.
Google has created a tradition of celebrating special or anniversary days with an inventive drawing, cartoon and link.
Here’s a Washington Post story on the Valentine’s Day special. The Post story contains links to the Google Valentine’s Day cartoon and also a link to a recording of Tony Bennett singing ‘Cold Cold Heart’.
Once again here’s the original Tony Bennett version from 1951.
For those who would like to hear a second pop rendition of ‘Cold Cold Heart’, here’s Norah Jones:
The work of Hank Williams has reached millions and millions of people over the past few days with ‘Your Cheating Heart’ on a Super Bowl commercial and now around the world on Google’s search page.