Hank Williams, who would have thought? It’s 2009 and you’re bigger than ever in the hot trendy competitive world of popular music.
Everything has changed since January 1, 1953. Nashville is huge, Country Music or some version of it is more popular than ever, with what are now called superstars everywhere you look. Music is no longer made mechanically with a needle rubbing against bumps in plastic, not electronically with electric charges on plastic tape rolling past a pickup, but digitally up and down wires like a musical telephone.
You may not be surprised to know that your edgy forceful intense vocal style has for the most part been replaced in Country Music by a more low key microphone friendly style you were able to see and likely secretly admire a bit in Lefty Frizzell and even the crooners Eddy Arnold, and George Morgan.
The concept of the singer songwriter which you took from the singing brakeman Jimmie Rodgers and western movie heroes like Gene Autry, and turned into an art form, has been your lasting, most powerful legacy.
Your true descendants have names like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, and Neil Young. So the recording studios and music stages are filled with men and women standing alone in the middle, trying desperately to match your creation of a lonely persona seeking to probe the depths of soul destroying despair, and the raucous exuberant joys of life and love. And see both with equal clarity.
Now your lost daughter known as Jett Williams has done you proud by helping to put together a three record set of those old Mother’s Best Flour WSM radio shows from 1952. And Newspapers from around the world and prestigious Literary Journals , and the New York Times , yes New York, and The Los Angeles Times too. Oh yea, a magazine they call the New Yorker. And a magazine called Rolling Stone the bible of another style of music you pioneered loves the Mother’s Best shows,can’t get enough, and it’s 2009. The things they are saying about your genius, you would never believe.
Your vocal style lived on too, although not so much in Country. It flourished in something called Rock and Roll and in Rhythm and Blues. And a guy who didn’t write his songs, but had your ability to transform himself into the essence of a lyric especially a gospel lyric, was Elvis Presley. Like you, he could take a song or hymn and make you believe every word and make you believe that he believed which is something different. Many R and B stylists had some of your powerful vocal presentation which they learned from the long southern blues tradition, say an Otis Redding, or even James Brown! The list of rockers who give it all every time is too long to even consider, and everyone would have their own choices.
Oh yes,and most people don’t think the Grand Ole Opry is really doing all that well anymore, and really isn’t very important in the Country Music business. As a matter matter of fact they tried to cut one of your true musical descendants, Stonewall Jackson, but he beat em off. You would have been proud.