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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