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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams as vocalist’

Someone visiting the blog recently reached away back to my beginnings back in 2008 to find a couple of the greatest most profound quotes about Hank Williams I’ve ever read. I guess I had forgotten this blog review of ‘The Unreleased Recordings” by Citizen K.
I have a link to the blog on the blogroll to the right, but I don’t think there has been fresh material on it recently, as the author moved and changed jobs a while back. I used these quotes in one of my articles on the new Hank Mother’s Best record.
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…
You can read the whole review HERE.
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Time Life will release two live Hank Williams’ concerts on CD in October.

One of these is the famous Sunset Park concert recorded in West Grove Pennsylvania in July 1952. This concert has been available on some websites featuring rare material, and was on You Tube until quite recently.

The second concert was recorded at Niagara Falls New York in April 1952.

The CD will also include a radio interview recorded in Spetember 1951.

The CD will officially be called: Hank Williams: The Lost Concerts Limited Collector’s Edition

Here are the track listing I took from American Songwriter website.

Niagara Falls, New York: April 25, 1952.

1.      Comedy with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys
2.      I Can’t Help It
3.      Jerry Rivers and the Drifting Cowboys: Orange Blossom Special
4.      Why Don’t You Love Me
5.      Are You Walking and A Talking
6.      The Funeral
7.      Hey Good Looking
8.      Cold, Cold Heart
9.      Lovesick Blues

Sunset Park, West Grove, PA: July 13, 1952.

10.  Introductions
11.  Hey Good Looking
12.  Comedy with Hank and the Drifting Cowboys
13.  Jerry Rivers and the Drifting Cowboys: Fire On The Mountain
14.  Lonesome Whistle
15.  Jambalaya
16.  Long Gone Lonesome Blues
17.  Half As Much
18.  I Saw The Light
19.  Lovesick Blues
20.  Interview: Hank interviewed by Mack Sanders, KFBI, Wichita, Kansas, September 14, 1951.

Thanks to Tom Lipscombe for heads up on this story.
Time Life is really big important corporation and they would never bother keeping a little blog up to date on what they are doing even though it has enthusiastically supported its previous Hank Williams’ releases and brought information about their projects to thousands  of readers.

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Norah Jones has named Hank Williams as one of her five favorite singers of all time. She told The Toronto Star:

“The songs he sings are so good and even when the recordings are old and scratchy, they’re magic.”

 Jones is just about the most successful pop jazz, recording artists of the past decade.

The winner of five Grammy Awards Jones began her recording career in 2002 with ‘Come Away With Me’, which featured her rendition of ‘Cold, Cold, Heart’. Currently she is touring in support of her album ‘Little Broken  Hearts’. Jones appeared on the ‘Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams’ all star album of Hank Williams lyrics set to music by the performers. She recorded ‘How Many Times Have you Broken My Heart’ with Gillian Welch. Jones is a prolific accomplished songwriter in her own right, with most of her albums featuring songs either written or co-written by her.

She also a member of a group called Little Willies which is basically a country band. In their two albums they have recorded songs by Hank Williams, Fred Rose, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Ralph Stanley, and Lefty Frizzell. They also recorded Hank Williams ‘Lovesick Blues’ on one of their albums.

Jones was profiled in the Toronto Star  on May 20. She lists her top five as Hank, Johnny Cash, Billie Holiday, Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

Joners is the daughter of legendary Indian musician Ravi Shankar, but grew up with her mother in Texas.

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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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‘I Dreamed That The Great Judgement Morning’ is a beautiful treasure of Hank Williams’ ability as an accomplished professional vocalist.

The notes to The Unreleased Recordings three CD set say it is the longest recording of Hank Williams there is. It clocks in at about five minutes. The exact figure is 5:25.

The outstanding thing about this track is the control Hank exhibits from beginning to end. The old hymn is a straight verse piled on verse. There is a chorus but no sense of a break or bridge to give a feeling of variety. There is no musical break by the Drifting Cowboys during the entire performance. I can’t think of too many examples of Hank showing such power over a listener’s attention.

Hank’s singing style is not only controlled, but he sings in a softer gentler range, a bit lower than usual and with a openness and depth. The recording at WSM is deeper and fuller than the MGM recordings at Castle Studio. I wish somebody could explain this.  I have read somewhere that Eddy Arnold, for example, recorded at Castle in those days and certainly achieved a full rich tone.

But the real power of this recording is how it highlights the whole Hank Williams package minus the humor rock and roll of course! There is absolute commitment to the song, total concentration and control, and unbelievable sincerity. 

It doesn’t matter if you are a fundamentalist, evangelical, liberal, Catholic, agnostic, or atheist, in this performance, Hank has you in the palm of his hand, suspending critical judgement and disbelief, for five minutes and twenty five seconds you won’t forget.

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