Hank Williams knew a terrible secret, and he revealed it in his songs and performances. He knew that humans have a core of fear where love is a fleeting and treacherous thing, where redemption lies in death, and where loneliness and isolation is the human fate. In Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings, he fearlessly explores this core, leading us on the harrowing journey that ultimately claimed his life. . . . . . . . .Hank Williams understood loneliness as an essential part – maybe the essential part – of the human condition, the surest path to the true self. He feared loneliness but couldn’t resist its embrace; in his exploration of loneliness, he ironically touched the most fearful part of all of us. Perhaps the knowledge that someone else understood that part of us and could express it as art eases our burden and lightens our step. Certainly, such empathy allowed one soul the redemption it never knew in life…
Archive for January, 2013
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Fred Rose, Hank Williams, Hank Williams biography, Hank Williams health, Hank Williams live, Hank Williams performance, Hank Williams Vancouver, Lovesick Blues, memories of Hank Williams on January 27, 2013| 2 Comments »
Here’s a good description of an appearance by Hank Williams in 1949. It comes from the Vancouver Sun which is collecting reports of memorable events in the city to celebrate the papers 100th anniversary. Columnists John Mackie is asking readers to share their memories from years gone by:
One of my faves came from Art Currie, who was among the lucky people who saw country and western great Hank Williams perform at the PNE’s Exhibition Gardens on Sept. 13, 1949.
Neither The Sun nor Province covered the show, so how the gig went was a mystery. In fact, few people had any idea Williams had even played Vancouver until my friend Dave Chesney came across a mention of it on a Williams timeline. So I found the original ad, wrote an item, and Currie emailed to say he’d been to the show.
Currie still has the program for the touring show of Grand Ole Opry stars like Williams, Ernest Tubb, Cowboy Copas and Minnie Pearl.
“I actually went to see Ernest Tubb, who was my favourite guy,” recounts Currie, 88. “I’d heard of Hank Williams. He had a couple of songs (that were hits). Ernest Tubb didn’t show up at the show – he was sick. But Hank Williams, the way he did his thing, I more or less fell in love with Hank Williams right then. I was a fan of his ’til the day he died.”
Currie recalls Williams doing a 20-to 30-minute set.
“He sang the Lovesick Blues,” he said. “I remember he said, ‘When I showed this to my producer when I came to do a record, I sang that and the guy told me that’s the worst’s thing I’ve ever heard.’
“(Williams) was a funny guy. He was a tall, thin, pale guy, long black sideburns. He didn’t look like a well guy, even back then. He was never well, I don’t think. But he lived awhile after that.
“So he did Lovesick Blues, and Wedding Bells. He told some jokes in between, even with his sad songs.”
This remembrance is notable in that it represents Hank with ‘Lovesick Blues’ just as he was breaking through. Many of the great hits are still to come. But even at this time over three years before his death Hank is described as obviously not being a healthy looking person.
I am always shocked when I read these reports. Whether it was his record company MGM, The Opry, publisher Acuff Rose, family, or musician friends, he was exploited for his money-making ability, ‘sliced and sold like bologna” as he once said, with no concern for him as a person. If there had been a few true friends was saw him as a troubled genius and put his welfare number one, he might have been saved. I know Fred Rose sincerely tried to help but seemed to drop out of the picture in the final year as Hank fought his demons and the horrible aftereffects of spinal fusion surgery.
We all know the tragic ending.
But in 1949 some guy from Vancouver could see all was not well for Hank Williams.
On the anniversary of his death, Saving Country Music put together a very detailed page outlining the main details surrounding the death of Hank Williams and the immediate aftermath. This is a great country site and a lot of work has gone into this posting.
Thanks very much to Hank Williams’ authority Ed Guy for sending me his first hand report on the commemorations of Hank Williams’ death held in Montgomery on the New Year’s weekend.
NEW YEAR’S EVE 12-31-12 & NEW YEAR’S DAY 1-1-13
Had an enjoyable trip to Montgomery, AL and visited with many Hank Fans, Beth & Jeff Petty, Braxton Schuffert, Andy Norman, Rick & Marie Angers, and others.
Andy, Beth Cooper, and Tyler Jones (an excellent teenage singer of Hank Songs from Killen, AL) were the performers who stood out. Braxton was so endearing as he told stories of Hank and sang some of the old songs and explained how they were written on demand (by Fred Rose)
Karo provided the Karaoke Program on NY’s Eve before the live music.
Jeff Petty, as always, was the perfect MC.
An ardent Hank Fan and Fan Club Member – Rabbi Ben Alpert of Boynton Beach, FL – presented an interesting discussion of Hank’s life and music which was well received at both the Gravesite and in the Museum.
Bobby Linzey of Cumming, GA, who was a neighbor of Hank’s in Montgomery, recalled his experiences as a young boy frequenting Miss Lilly’s Boarding House, seeing Hank in life and also his recollections of Hank’s Funeral. He displayed some interesting photographs.
Terry Faust, “Hank’s Grave Tender” sang a haunting tribute song to Hank at the Gravesite. Other singers & musicians included T J Bohannon, 10 years old, of Rome, GA; Roger “Hurricane” Wilson of Kennesaw, GA; and
the Slim Pickin’s Band who are scattered throughout Georgia.
Two events…….. the Candlelight Vigil & Singing at Hank’s Statue on Perry Street on NY’s Eve and the Gravesite Service on NY’s Day with music by the Sheppard Family from Banks, AL and fine food both days with a good attendance. (On NY’s Day, Beth Petty and Betty Jackson served the traditional black-eyed peas dinner.
Due to illness, Charles Carr was unable to attend. Hopefully he will recover soon and have a most Happy & Healthy New Year.
Even had appearances by Mary Margaret McCord, Miss Alabama USA, and Lorin Holcombe, Miss Teen Alabama USA.
Beth Petty, Curator of the HW Museum reminds everyone that there will be an Open House at the Museum in Montgomery on Feb 10, 2013 to celebrate the Museum’s 14th Anniversary.
Palm Coast, FL
Every once in while I go on You Tube and search for videos on spina bifida and spinal fusion surgery.
Hank Williams underwent a new and risky form of surgery to relieve acute back pain called spinal fusion. This surgery opened up the back cutting through the muscle to expose the actual bones,nerves and spinal cord itself. Even today recovery can be problematic and the effectiveness of this procedure is by no means guaranteed.
Biographer and writers about Hank Williams have down played the importance of this event. A month and a half after surgery the Grand ole Opry tried to force him back on the road.
I got lucky the last time I checked You Tube in December. The first video I check showed an obviously sincere and intelligent woman, mature and not at all complaining or whining about her situation.
She touched on a number of issues which may have applied to Hank Williams.After six weeks the pain had not gone away; she had a fall which made the situation worse; and with all of today’s sophisticated pain control options she was still having trouble with medication.
Hank Williams underwent spinal fusion surgery 61 years ago, And after a year of pain, incontinence, experimentation with primitive drugs, and totally on his own, with no help or sympathy from friends, family, or business colleagues, he died 60 years ago.