Archive for January, 2010

Another rave review for the cover of  ‘Alone and Forsaken’ on the ‘Hope for Haiti benefit Friday night. This own from the Yahoo Country blog Viva Nash Vegas, written by Wendy Geller.

Out of all the “country”-tagged performances of the night, one truly sent shivers up and down my spine. Dave Matthews’ duet with Neil Young.

Neither Matthews nor Young are primarily country artists (although, of course, they both have relationships with the country world). It was their choice of song that stood out as remarkably demonstrative for the event: “Alone And Forsaken,” by the iconic Hank Williams, Sr.

I, like countless other music fans, am enthralled by Hank Williams’s history: His too-short life, his even shorter career, and–naturally–his ability to fine-tune and distill pain and hopelessness down to a perfect handful of verses. (On a personal note, I’ve also been long fascinated by his relationship with muse/first wife Audrey Mae Sheppard–in fact, so captivated by their tale that my own daughter is named Audrey.)

In a nutshell: Nobody–well, very few, anyway–can do hurtin’ like Hank.

Given this, when I heard Matthews and Young deliver the mournful “Alone And Forsaken”–one of Williams’s bleakest tunes–as their contribution to the benefit for this devastating tragedy, I was frozen.

Alone and forsaken, by fate and by man,

Oh Lord, if you hear me, please hold my hand.

Brilliant, heartbreaking, pure, true.

Hank, as always, you win again.

I’m even starting to be taken aback by some of these comments. The ones I’ve posted so far are just hit and miss on the search, and not really from an organized effort. I’m sure there are many more out there.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a wonderful review which tries to explain the  power of Hank Williams’ song ‘Alone and Forsaken’ in the context of the Haiti disaster. Hank’s song was one of the emotional highlights of Friday night’s  ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ benefit concert. The review by John Kays is part of his  longer article called ‘Seven Beautiful Songs from Hope for Haiti Now’  from the website NewsBlaze.

Alone and Forsaken is a solemn elegy of a broken love, written by Hank Williams, Sr. Hank’s version is untouchable, but Dave Matthews and Neil Young put hurt and heartache into it that would have made Hank proud.

The lyric turn is as dramatic as the sudden crack in the earth at Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, January 12th. “Our love was in flower as summer grew on, her love like the leaves now has withered and gone.”

This is a love lament done in Hank Williams’ inimitable, lyrical style, but Dave and Neil invested the pathos and necessary bite to properly express a shadow of metaphor, a metaphor for an event that has undone the Haitian people. Utter sincerity and purposeful force permeated their performance. I’m a convert now (to Hank, Dave and Neil).

Neil and Dave could little fumble the ball with Williams’ gut-wrenchin’ poetry that rips through the refrain: “Alone and forsaken by fate and by man, oh Lord, if you hear me please hold to my hand, oh please understand.” In this dirge the woman is a villainess, so I believe that, in turn, she can represent the misfortune of Haiti.

“She promised to honor, to love and obey, each vow was a plaything that she threw away.” Haiti’s long history has included one bad thing after another-Columbus, slavery, sugar plantation labor, Napoleon Bonaparte, Papa Doc and Baby Doc-Western curse, bad juju, never ending streak of bad luck! Neil and Dave eased the burden just a little.

For Hank Williams fans around the world his pivotal role in this world wide musical event with an audience of millions will stand as one of the highlights of the year 2010 no matter what triumphs there may be as the year progresses.

Read Full Post »

Coming just before Haiti native Wycliff Jean’s close, Dave Mathews and Neil Young provided the  artistic, emotional climax to the ‘Hope Haiti TV Special with a moving rendition of Hank Williams’ hymn to despair ‘Alone and Forsaken’. (More to Come)

‘Alone and forsaken’ was first released in the mid fifties on the ‘Moanin The Blues’ album. Mike Taylor at the Hank Williams Discography which is linked at the side, says the recording on ‘Moaning The Blues’ came from the Johnny Fair Syrup radio broadcasts in Shreveport. Apparently it was never recorded for MGM.

MTV says “Emmy Lou Harris captured the isolation in the song on the ‘Timeless’ album, as did  Dave Mathews and Neil Young whose performance (Friday Night)underscored the seriousness of Hope for Haiti Now.”

The Los AnglesTimes like MTV thought the Hank Williams’ song perfectly caught the spirit of the Hope for Haiti event:

And then there was the unexpected pairing of Neil Young and Dave Matthews. Strumming guitars, the pair sang a spectral version of the Hank Williams song “Alone and Forsaken” that forced listeners to acknowledge the depth of pain in Haiti that no amount of charity can heal.

Not everyone agreed that this was the most touching moment in the concert, New York Times c alled the pairing of Mathews and Young “awkward”.

Read Full Post »

I was very disappointed to see that the new country music movie Crazy Heart does include the Hank Williams classic recording of the Fred Rose composition in the soundtrack. Obviously the title of the movie is taken from the song.

Crazy Heart has always been one  of my favorite Hank Williams recordings, although it was  a ‘B’ side and did not make the charts. However I think it was one of the most popular of Hank Williams songs after his death. It was featured on many posthumous Hank Williams’ collections. ‘Crazy Heart’ was written by Fred Rose and Maurice Murray. It was recorded by Hank Williams July 25th 1951, and released as the B side of ‘I Heard That Lonesome Whistle’.

As opposed to the traditionally country and western styling of ‘Lonesome Whistle’, ‘Crazy Heart’ was  a hard-driving,  high energy, raw, edgy number which could have easily been an early rockabilly cover by Elvis, Jerry Lee, or Carl Perkins.

The new country music movie stars Jeff Bridges as a sort of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson character who hasn’t had a hit for years and is reduced to playing cheap bars, using local pick up bands.

Although for some inexplicable reason the soundtrack does not include Hank Williams singing ‘Crazy Heart’ it does have a few classic country records by the original artists. The main soundtrack and the songs sung by the Jeff Bridges character were written by T-bone Burnette and Ryan Bingham. Bingham sings what looks like the film’s biggest hit a song called ‘The Weary Kind’.

The traditional Country songs on the soundtrack include: Buck Owens ‘Hello Trouble’, The Louvin Brothers’ ‘My Baby’s Gone’, ‘Searching’ by Kitty Wells, the ‘Color of the Blues’ by George Jones, and finally a great 70’s classic ‘Are You Sure Hank Done it this Way’  by  Waylon Jennings.

But alas I can’t find any reference to a real Hank Williams’ classic called ‘Crazy Heart’ written by Fred Rose. I wonder if there were copyright problems or some legal issues that kept Hank off the movie. Seems very mysterious. With my limited amount of research I haven’t been able to solve it, so if you have any ideas give us a shout in the comments section below.

This movie by the way is Oscar bound. Jeff Bridges is expected to get a nomination for Best Actor.

It interesting to note that Jeff Bridges connection with Hank Williams goes back into the 60’s. As all  fans know, one of Hank Williams’  greatest triumphs came in a movie about a decaying Texas town called ‘The Last Picture Show’. A very young Jeff Bridges was brilliant in the Peter Bogdanovich film which also starred  Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, and Timothy Bottoms.. The soundtrack of that classic was made up almost entirely of original Hank Williams’ recordings with a few by Hank Snow and some others. But the black and white photography, the despair etched on the faces of the lead actors including Bridges, and the haunting ghostly sounds of Hank Williams in the distance made this an all time American classic.

Read Full Post »

The annual midnight vigil at the Hank Williams’ gravesite in Montgomery continued this year.

On New Year’s Day morning a ceremony was held at the graveside.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, at least 14 performers attended the event and performed on New Year’s Day at the Hank Williams Museum.

Ninety four year old Braxton Schuffert who performed with Hank Williams in the early years, and seventy four year old Charles Carr who, as a teenager, drove Hank Williams on his last journey , both attended.

The events were organized by the Hank Williams Museum.

Here is the Montgomery Advertiser story.

Read Full Post »

It must be a great day in Hank Williams’ home state of Alabama!

Details here.

Have Fun!

Read Full Post »

A prominent e-mail newsletter on Hank Williams operated by Robert ‘Hank’ Ackerman will continue.

Ackerman stunned fans over the holiday when he announced suspension of the newsletter. After what must have been a tremendous uproar of concern about the loss of this valuable tool for people interested in Hank Williams, Ackerman relented and agreed to keep going. He is now 73 years old and said in his announcement that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and other personal matters.

Of course, the newsletter’s  announcements about Hank Williams events and appearances by traditional country artists,  Hank tribute artists and other topics is vitally important in keeping Hank Williams alive in people’s lives. This little blog doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things Hank, but  Robert was so very kind and welcoming to me when I started in November 08. He took time to welcome me make sure I got on his list and has given me the occasional plug. And when he does the number of visitors goes way up.

I think the e-mail format is the best way to go for getting out news on Hank related events. When that e-mail lands in your box you have to look at it. And the Newsletter has over 600 recipients.

I haven’t done much news coverage in this blog format unless it’s really important and shows up on internet searches. Visitors sort of wander into the blog here and there and posting news here really wouldn’t give much coverage to concerts and other shows.

The important thing is  Robert gives valuable coverage to events you probably won’t find  in newspapers, radio, or blogs.

I don’t want to even try to  guess at the volume of e-mail, press releases, notes and publications Robert has to sort through every day and then decide what to use and when. It’s a big job. So let’s face it, he can’t run it forever and sooner or later some younger people are going to have to come forward and operate some of these Hank news, publicity, and promotion  services. Robert ‘Hank’ Ackerman can be reached at:

Read Full Post »

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of  organizations in Hank Williams home state of Alabama in preserving and promoting his artistic legend and preserving his memory for centuries to come.

With this in mind, it came as a shocking loss to many to learn over the holidays that Mary Wallace the  President of the Hank Williams Fan Club based in Georgiana had died in a tragic accident. Wallace was also one of the chief organizers and a founder of the of Hank Williams Festival which is held annually in Georgiana and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Hank Williams Museum and Boyhood Home.

John Wise will take over as President of the Fan Club.

Courtesy of Robert Ackerman’s Newsletter here is the  sincere, heartfelt  statement from John Wise.

It is with heavy heart that I write this letter. Our beloved President, Mary Wallace was accidentally killed in her home December 21st, 2009. Everyone I know in the Hank Willliams Fan Club and around the world has lost a great leader and  friend. There is no doubt Mary will be missed. She made a huge impact on Butler County, Alabama, Georgiana and the world. As a friend and Vice President of the Hank Williams International Fan Club, I saw her in action many times. There was no more dedicated person to her community and the fan club which she helped organized. Upon her death, as Vice-President, I had to move up to the President’s chair. I know how Harry Truman felt when President Roosevelt died. How can I fill the shoes of Mary Wallace? Well I’ll tell you that no one alive that I know can do it; especially me. She can never be replaced. But the fact is, we must go on. That is what I think Mary wanted. As a matter of fact, I am sure of it. I assure you that myself, officers and board members will give it our best. We must not fail and we will not fail. I ask for your prayers and support as I lead this club forward. I will be available to any club member or non-member. Feel free to contact me at 678-752-9589, or e-mail “johnr749@bellsouth.net”. My home address is John R. Wise, 122 Woody Road Jackson, GA 30233. In closing I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope to see you all at the festival in Georgiana, Alabama the 2nd weekend in June 2010.

Here is the Greenville Advocate Newspaper account of Mary Wallace’s passing.

Read Full Post »