A fine, rich article on the Hank Williams Fred Rose composition ‘I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive’. Davis Inman takes a pretty in-depth, scholarly look at Hank Williams’ personal situation when the song was recorded in June 1952 just six months from his death. And he examines, I think in a realistic manner, the relationship between Hank Williams and Fred Rose as songwriters.
I was noticing after reading this article a CD of Hank Williams’ greatest hits which I also have on vinyl. It was for many years the sort of definitive Hank Williams greatest hits recording. Millions of fans probably got all their Hank from this record. This is the one with the bust of Hank Williams on the front. Amazingly in this 24 greatest hits package the producer from MGM did not include ‘I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive’.
There’s no doubt ‘I’ll Never’ was a much overlooked hank Williams song through the years. It was released in November 1952, so with Hank’s death in just a little over a month, and then the posthumous release of the massive hit ‘Your Cheatin Heart’, I’ll Never’ may have been overlooked a bit.
On the surface the song is a sort of jumble of unrelated nonsense lyrics. It almost seems in the tradition of ‘Mind Your Own Business’ and ‘Move It on Over’ but not even as coordinated and unified as the two earlier masterpieces.
But this one has a rollicking sense of humour as all the familiar silly images are rolled out. But the title brings in a dark side that seems to grow and become more disturbing as the song piles on the list of unrelated crazy images one after another.
In the end I think the contrast between the fun and the looming spectre of death begins to hit home. And Hank seems to sing it with a kind of intense seriousness which was his trademark.
Of course, if Hank Williams had lived another 40 years the poignancy of the lyric would have been lost. In his article Inman also notes that Fred Rose lived only two years after it was recorded.
No doubt in my mind that Hank fans will enjoy the article which is right here: