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Archive for April, 2010

I’m not sure what’s going on with this new Hank Williams’ biopic called ‘The Last Ride’ which was being filmed recently in Arkansas. But here’s a photo of one of the stars Kaley Cuoco.

And here’s  another shot of Henry Thomas who stars as Hank Williams.

I’ve heard some comments from some people who aren’t holding out much hope for this flick. I hate to say it but I can’t imagine what this sweet faced Kaley can possibly be doing in the film. And as others have mentioned Henry Thomas looks in pretty good shape, strong and healthy looking, compared to what we know was Hank’s condition at the time.

Let’s trust Harry Thomason who’s directing and hope for the best.

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A final newspaper article on Hank Williams’ Pulitzer Prize honor.

In this one, the citation from the Columbia University Pulitzer committee, is nicely linked with the memories of Bob Sullivan who knew Hank Williams during his days at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

I’ve often wondered who coined the phrase “Hillbilly Shakespeare”, which is revived in the headline for this report.

The article with a photo of Bob is carried in an Oklahoma paper called the McAlester News-Capital.

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The rush of news and comment in the media on Hank Williams’ Pulitzer Prize is starting to slow down. But I wanted to bring you at least one more comment, this time from the Martinez News Gazette in California.

This article has the clever title of ‘Melting the Pulitizer’s cold, cold heart’, and is written by Jim Caroompas.

In this paragraph, Caroompas goes right at that vocal quality that I was talking  about a few posts back, the voice that could reach into the most profound depths of human experience.

Well, Hank pretty much created country music in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Before him, there were country players, but they were considered hillbillies. No one in mainstream America took the music seriously. Hank put on sparkly cowboy suits with a great big Stetson hat to frame his skinny physique, and filled the room with that broken-hearted voice of his that still sends shivers down the spine, so full of loneliness and raw despair. His singing alone could keep him in the forefront of country music history. He brought a new respect for the way you could sing a country song, almost urbanized the genre without losing its sense of hay and fried chicken. A kid in New Jersey could feel a kinship with the pain in that voice, as easily as one from Georgia.

The writer also makes a good comment about the songs and their enduring value.

The odds are pretty good that you know at least one of those songs, no matter how old you are. That is the ultimate legacy for a songwriter – the fact that the songs get handed down from one generation to the next. At some point, of course, the writer is forgotten. But the song continues.

Great work Jim.

The whole article is in the Martinez News Gazette.

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It’s been a little slow to develop but the commentary on Hank Williams’ Pulitzer is bringing out some great writing about Hank in the media. I’m jealous of ability and the insights I’m seeing.

Here a comment from JP G at ‘Satire on the Rocks’, a blog.

If the Wisdom of the Ages had an actual voice, it would sound like Hank Williams’. Those things you know to be true but disregard for whatever reason? Your knowledge that life is short? The despair about your imminent demise? Hank Williams wrote the soundtrack to the Human Condition.

Very few Hank songs are about how it’s a great day to be alive. The closest he gets is something like “I Saw the Light,” with its refrain, “I saw the light/I saw the light/No more darkness, no more night/Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight/Praise the Lord, I saw the light.” Sure, he found God and now he’s happy, but there is mention made of sorrow, darkness, and night. He’s happy enough now, but there was a time…

The whole blog posting is brilliant. And there’s lots of references to Hank’s sad personal biography that we all know about, but JP G has to review because a lot of his readers may not know much about Hank. But unlike some I have mentioned in the past, this writer uses details of Hank’s life to make good points about his works.

Maybe I should retire and turn this into a news clipping service.

Here is the link to the article called ‘A singular voice now with a (posthumous) Pulitzer to prove it’.

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Hank Williams is hitting the big time on Wall Street. Well not exactly bringing down the billions on worthless commercial paper and the multi million dollar paycheques,  but getting a nice write up in the Wall Street Journal of all places. Hey they’ve got hearts after all!

I especially like the clever play on the title of a Hank song in the headline.

Wall Street Journal here.

I thought I would repeat for emphasis here, the last paragraph of the Wall Street Journal story, which is one of the very best paragraphs about Hank Williams and modern Country Music I’ve seen in a while:

The acknowledgement of Williams comes at a time when country music seems under assault from within, as its biggest stars promote glossy, cookie-cutter hybrid that owes more to pop than acoustic country and its writers have reduced to a litany of well-worn clichés the kind of lyrical insight Williams displayed. Though Williams was a star in his day who understood the power of image, at the core of his work was his ability to write and sing lines that resonated not only in the mind but deep in the heart of his listeners – which is why his songs so easily cross genres for other performers: His words speak of what we know to be true.

Hey we’ve all been saying this over and over, but this writer said it so WELL.

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Sometimes when you’re listening to Hank Williams sing, you are taken to another place. Whether one of his own songs, or a traditional hymn, or someone else’s composition, something happens.You are engulfed with an overwhelming pall of understanding that you are in the presence of an artist who is exploring human experience and emotion at a level only the most profound poets and musicians  ever reach.

But you still have to ask, why is Hank Williams stature growing year by year in the 21st century?

The simple answer is this: year by year it’s becoming more and more about his works.  No artist has   received a worse deal from writers, biographers, and  reviewers in the years following his death than Hank Williams.  It was tabloid plus journalism. And because he lived and worked in what they called ‘hillbilly music’ he did not receive the serious attention as a poet and performer he should have received from the start.

I’m not saying these writers  said things which were not true or never happened. But the point is balance. The works got lost. Remember Hank s repoutation through the ages will be based solely on his works. The stories and scandals will disappear in the in mists of history. And already we can  the works grow as the life details recede from view. What the Pulitzer panel understood is that Hank Williams’ status as a world artist is finally established and will now continue to grow through the decades and indeed centuries to come.

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The special Pulitzer Prize Citation celebrating the life’s work, craftmanship, and profound cultural importance of Hank Williams has received publicity around the world.  Virtually all of the news and comment has been positive.

This is just a quick post to bring to your attention what I think is one of the best articles I’ve seen.

It comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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I’ll have more on this later of course. Once again a wonderful miraculous day for Hank Williams, a day to bring tears to the eyes of those of us who have always believed in the artistic stature of Hank Williams. Thanks to Marvin Kaplansky for an early tip on this.

Here is the first part of the Pulitzer Prize citation.

New York City, April 12 – The Pulitzer Prize Board has awarded a posthumous Special Citation to country music icon Hank Williams for his lifetime achievement as a musician, Columbia University announced today.

The citation praises Williams for “his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.”

The Board, chaired by Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of the Miami Herald, made the award after a confidential survey of experts in popular music.

“The citation, above all, recognizes the lasting impact of Williams as a creative force that influenced a wide range of other musicians and performers,” said Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes. “At the same time, the award highlights the Board’s desire to broaden its Music Prize and recognize the full range of musical excellence that might not have been considered in the past.”

Enjoy!!

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Film of Hank Williams and other early fifties country stars has been discovered in San Diego California. Thanks to Marvin Kaplansky for the heads up on this release on UPI and story at Country Standard Time.

This is a tremendous find. It has always been a strange twist of history that although Hank Williams lived in the age of film, there is almost no visual record of Hank Williams in performance, at least none that is  generally available to the public.

The best known video is on You Tube and comes from Hank’s appearances along with other Grand Old Opry stars on the Kate Smith show in March and April 1952.

I’ve always been amazed that such fantastic film of Jimmie Rodgers who died in  1933 is available. This is because  he made a sort film for Columbia Pictures, a movie short as they called them. His brilliance as a guitarist, singer, writer and performer are all on display today.  Marty Robbins, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce and other country stars are available from TV shows which were filmed some in brilliant colour in the 1950’s after Hank’s death.

Like the Mother’s Best radio releases over the last two years these new films when released will become a major event in the Hank Williams’  story.

It looks like Reelin in the Years Productions which  controls the footage is a really a top of the line organization specializing in re releasing and licensing vintage film of music stars from the early years. Their products look as if they are very tastefully and carefully made.

Thank goodness the film, which was made by John Banks of California radio station KRDU, was rescued from the garage of his widow. When you think of how most of us deal with stuff that’s been stored in an old shed or garage, it a miracle these films have been found and  restored and not thrown away and lost forever.

And as I said, it seems that they are in good hands with the Reelin in the Years company.

We’ll wait for a release, just as we had to for the Mother’s Best Box Sets, but let’s hope it’s not quite as  long.  Gives us something to look forward to!

If anyone has more information  on this find, especially as it relates to Hank Williams,  please give us a shout.

UPDATE:

I guess the enthusiasm I unleashed in the above article based on the releases I linked to above may have been somewhat over  the top. According to information on Robert Ackerman’s email newsletter, the film may not be as long as indicated, and does not have sound. It’s still a wait and see since there hasn’t been much from Reelin in the Years.

But until we get more facts wee’ll have to keep lamenting the sorry lack of live performance material featuring Hank Williams with sound!!

Although ‘Reelin’ has an impressive catalogue  of DVD’s of vintage artists for sale, this footage will apparently be available for licensing only.

Here’s another version of the story from Antimusic.

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We have some photos  from ‘The Last Ride’, the new Hank Williams movie  shooting in Little Rock Arkansas.These are from Dennis Oxley who acted as an extra in the scene, along with Becky Alexander who posted a comment earlier.

These are scenes involving extras and a photo of the Cadillac used in the movie shoot. Thanks to Dennis for writing his own captions making it easier for me and more interesting for you.

Posed shot of the director (Harry Thomason-center with glasses) and the band. The lead singer (guy on right with guitar) had to have someone drive him to the set each day because he’s only 16! …but he had some great “pipes”!

The Cadillac used in thre movie that represents (I assume) the one that Hank Williams Sr. was found dead in. I don’t know if (or how) that will be dealt with in the movie.

Finally, Here’s a shot taken bu Colt Cockrell of Dennis getting slammed by Becky Alexander who wrote us a nice comment on the post with pictures from Benton.


Day two at the NLR Hanky Tonk shoot for “The Last Ride”. Dennis Oakley getting slapped in more than 15 takes by fellow extra(the production crew preferred the term “background” persons) Becky Alexander in this re-enactment. Director Thomason made sure  “she hit him hard!”

This is John back, and while I’m doing this I want to go back to the earlier posting of pictures from the Benton Arkansas shoot a while ago. These were sent to me by Amy. I mistakenly failed to post her Cadillac picture and misidentified a picture of a what looked like a 51 Pontiac !

So Here’s Amy’s photo.


Thank to everyone for these pictures. They give us all a new interest and a new connection to the movie no matter how it turns out.


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