Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams influence’

This is a great video capturing both the sound, and spirit of Hank Williams.

This an eight minute medley by a Hank Williams tribute artist from Japan.


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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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The Nashville newspaper The Tennessean has an intelligent, thoughtful  article about Hank Williams. The paper’s long time country music writer Peter Cooper paid tribute to Hank on the 60th anniversary of his death.

I was attracted to this piece because although he doesn’t dwell on it, Cooper briefly mentions Hank’s back problems and seems to take it seriously noting Hank’s”back always hurt”. I don’t think he is suggesting Hank used his back problems to get drugs, although that might have been a view at the time.

Readers of this blog know that I think it’s likely  Hank suffered from a serious spinal cord disease called Spina Bifida. We know  for a fact  and that in December of 1951, Doctors at Vanderbilt thought it was serious enough that he underwent  a spinal fusion operation also known as open back surgery.

This is serious unpredictable surgery today in 2012, and the pain which often results is often unbearable even with the pain control advancements made by the pharmaceutical industry in the past 60 years..

For those interested in all of the details and controversies surrounding Hank’s last ride  around New Years 52/53, Cooper also provides  a link to a very thorough, factual, non sensational, history of that trip which he wrote in 2003.

Here’s the link:


And here’s a link to three  of the  articles I wrote about spinal fusion surgery including Bono’s back surgery.


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Hank Williams’ daughter Jett Williams, the film’s director Harry Thomason and the producer Benjy Gaither will attend a free first showing of ‘The Last Ride’ in New York City on June 20th. Seating is first come first served.

The three will participate in a panel discussion following the showing at The New School at 66 West 12th Street New York NY at 6pm.

The title of the panel discussion seems very appropriate:  I Saw the Light: Hank Williams’ Sixty Years of Influence on American music.

As listed in the previous post, the film will open for one week at Cinema Village at 22 East 12th Street on June 22.

Here is a link to the press release from the school.

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Bruce Springsteen says it took him a long time to gain an understanding and appreciation of Hank Williams.

In his celebrated and widely reported key-note address to the South by Southwest Music festival in Austin Texas, Bruce Springsteen spent about five minutes discussing the legacy of Hank Williams.

Having explored rock and folk styles Springsteen says in the late 70’s he found his way to country music looking for more meaning and depth:

I remember sitting in my little apartment, listening to Hank Williams Greatest Hits over and over. And I was trying to crack his code because at first it just didn’t sound good to me. It just sounded cranky and old-fashioned…with that hard country voice. With that austere instrumentation. But slowly, slowly my ears became accustomed to its beautiful simplicity and its darkness and depth. And Hank Williams went from archival to alive for me before my, before my very eyes. And I lived, I lived on that for awhile in the late ’70s.

I haven’t followed Springsteen’s career that closely, but fans will know that in 1982 he produced his most sparse, spare, austere stripped down album called ‘Nebraska’. Apparently much of this record was made on a cassette recorder and the demo versions of many of the tracks were released as is. One would have to conclude that this album was his homage and tribute to Hank Williams.

I don’t think anyone has ever described the essence and truth in Hank Williams as clearly and well as Bruce Springsteen. Read this carefully, then read it over again.

In country music, I found the adult blues, the working men and women’s stories I had been searching for, the grim recognition of the chips that were laid down against you. My bucket’s got a hole in it. I’ll never get out of this world alive. Lost highways [sings a snippet of Charlie Rich]….Working man’s blues. Stoic recognition of everyday reality and the small and the big things that allow you to put a foot in front of the other and get you through. I found that country’s fatalism attracted me. It was reflective, it was funny, it was soulful. But it was quite fatalist, ya know. Tomorrow looks pretty dark.

As we all know Springsteen’s work has been very political. In the end it was the fatalism he found in country that forced him to move on.

One thing it rarely was…it was rarely politically angry, it was rarely politically critical. And I realized that fatalism had a toxic element. If rock ‘n roll was a seven-day weekend, country was Saturday night hell-raising, followed by heavy Sunday coming down. Guilt, guilt, guilt. I fucked up, oh my God. But, as the song says, would you take another chance on me? That was country. Country seemed not to question why, it seemed like it was about doing then dying, screwing then crying, boozing then trying. And as Jerry Lee Lewis, the living, breathing personification of both rock and country, said, “I’ve fallen to the bottom and I’m working my way down.”

Of course all of us who have followed country music through the years know that whenever country artists get involved in politics it all seems to go terribly wrong. I won’t even both bring forth examples, but I sure everyone would agree that country stars should stay out of politics, mainly because their music, their art is so deep and profound, and  politics is so shallow and filled with flippant sloganeering most of the time, the two things just don’t fit together very well..

It’s interesting to note that the one thing that really attracted him to Hank and country was this: “Country was provincial, and so was I,” he said.

But in the end he had to remain political. He says,

What country never accounted for was why things happened — I wanted to know why Hank Williams Sr.’s bucket had a hole in it. Answers to those kinds of questions were found in folk music by the likes of Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie before him.

Springsteen has a new album called ‘Wrecking Ball’ which deals with the economic meltdown and real estate disaster that befell working class America in the last decade.

If you want to watch the complete Springsteen speech which is 51 minutes long, you can  go to the NPR site. Only excerpts are available on YouTube. Note, the discussion of Hank Williams and country music comes at the 37 minute mark.

Here’s the link:



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This comment from Hank Sundell was posted on this website under an article I wrote about the recent Steve Earle novel which includes the ghost of Hank Williams as a character.

I thought the comment was so real and meaningful that I would give it a post of its own:

Hank Williams was and still is my hero. His voice and songs brought much comfort to us who served in the army and later in a army hospital. He was blue collar and down right a nice guy. There will be only one voice like his. God Bless you Hank where ever you are but I suspect on a cloud somewhere bringing tears to our eyes. You are sir an important part of my recovery as I was in Brooke General Hospital and had the privilege of listening to that wonderful God Given voice. There will be only one Hank Williams. Where ever you are Hank I love you, the rest of the world loves you…


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The new album is called ‘The First Rock and Roll Record’. It’s a huge 3CD set which presents    recordings that may have been considered the first rock record by someone at some time in rock history.

Of course, Hank Williams has to be on this record. The company has chosen ‘Move it On Over’. Scores of commentators and critics through the years have identified Hank as a founder of rock and roll, and ‘Move it on Over’ is often mentioned because Bill Haley’s seminal ‘Rock around the Clock’ sounds so much like Hank’s very inventive  witty and funny story about a man who’s locked out of his house by his wife and moves into the dog house for the night.

Readers will remember that I wrote a lengthy and I must say very thorough and quite brilliant article called ‘Hank Williams writes all time greatest rock lyric’. In that essay I argue that ‘Hey Good Lookin’ is a rock lyric and led directly to the later work of Buddy Holly, Faron Young, and  Chuck Berry. In that essay I also talk about ‘Move it on Over’ ‘Honky Tonkin’,  ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ and ‘Mind Your Own Business’.  That essay is here.

Although there are 82 tracks on this album there is only the one from Hank Williams. I would think ‘Hey good Lookin’ should have made it, and if only one Hank recordings could be included I would take ‘Hey Good Lookin’ over ‘Move it on Over’.

Here are some of the artist names from the record just to shake up your memories and curiosity:

Trixie Smith, Charlie Patton, Boswell Sisters, Benny Goodman, Robert Johnson (of course), Ella Fitzgerald, Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Bob  Wills, Big Joe Turner, The Andrew Sisters, T-bone Walker, Arther ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith, Delmore Brothers, Pee Wee King, Muddy Waters,  Fats Domino, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Big Mama Thornton, Arthur Crudup, and Jackie Brenston (Famous for Rocket 88 considered by many the first rock record)

The last part of Disc 3 contains recordings that are already considered rock and roll by Carl Perkins, Elvis, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. The last track is ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

The details about the record are on Amazon UK, and it will be available on Amazon US and Canada by the end of November.

Please feel free to used the comments section to submit your own ideas on the first rock and roll record, and which Hank record made the greatest contribution to rock music.

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Following Steve Earle’s new novel, ‘I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive’ which is a fictional story  about a fictional  doctor who treated Hank Williams in his final days, comes news of two new books on Hank.

Paul MacPhail who has written a number of books on country and rockabilly stars has a new book on Hank Williams coming out this fall. It’s called ‘Hank Williams from the Cradle to the Grave’. I’m really looking forward to this one. As I understand it, the biography will cover Hank’s life on a day to day basis. This book will do a lot to get the truth about Hank out there. As we all know, Hank’s biographers such as Colin Escott have overplayed Hank’s drinking, hopelessly underplayed the seriousness of his chronic back problem and extremely experimental and dangerous surgery. They’ve tried to show him from the Opry point of view as irresponsible and lazy. A Hank Williams day by day account should dispel some of these cruel misrepresentations.

MacPhail can be reached at: p.macphail@hotmail.com

Steve Mertz has written a novel with an interesting premise, a meeting between Hank Williams and Muddy Waters in Louisiana in 1952. It’s called, what else, ‘Hank and Muddy’ and covers some hair-raising adventures in Shreveport. Now all you Hank purists don’t get your shirts  in a knot, it’s just fiction, everybody knows it’s fiction and with Hank in the grave now for nearly 60 years, it won’t do his reputation any more  harm than those slanted biographies we’ve had to read. It keeps the name and image out there.

More on Mertz’ book HERE.

The news has been full of articles about Steve Earle’s book. I wrote a little piece earlier.

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Sometimes in this media world we live in with the onslaught of self important celebrities coming at us like armies over the hills, it can be a little thing which can reveal who is  really important. Can reveal an artist  from 60 years ago whose persona and his works have survived all the onslaughts of competition from both high and low culture to remain permantly in our artistic consciousness.

This is the kind of cultursl figure who a famous writer of today can use to make a little joke at someone else’s expense and we all get it. You don’t need to explain it; we all GET IT!

I guess there’s a bit of a scandal in  American politics  about a representative who sent some naughty pictures via texting and tweeting to some questionable  women  without his wife’s knowledge.

At the New York Times the most famous political and cultural columnist is a woman called Maureen Dowd.

This week Dowd  ran a column basically tearing a few strips off this politician and a few others like him who have been caught doing really stupid things involving relationships with women they should have avoided if they valued their marriages and their political careers.

Finally the point. You can check it out. New York Times, Op Ed section Wednesday June 8, 2011.

The title of the column:

“Your Tweetin’ Heart”, that’s right: “Your Tweetin’ Heart”.

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Wonderful news!

An essay on Hank Williams is featured as one of 216 in a new history of American literature from Harvard University Press. The ‘ A New Literary History of America’ was edited by Greil Marcus who is a well known writer on popular music topics, and Werner Sollars a professor at Harvard. They were assisted by a 12 member advisory board. The history covers the period from 1507  to 2008. Three other popular music figures are covered as well, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, and Billie Holiday, as well as early Jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton.

The essay focussing on Hank Williams is called ‘The Song in Country Music’. It is written by Dave Hickey, a noted arts and culture critic  and a Professor of English at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Hickey has written for major American magazines such as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Harpers. He has been profiled and interviewed in a number of major newspapers such as the New York Times. He has  written several books including  ‘Air Guitar’, an examination of  23 love songs.

Hickey’s essay examines Hank Williams’ influence on later song writers.

I tackled this topic in an earlier post in which I discussed the Hank Williams’ rock masterpiece ‘Hey Good Lookin’ and the  influence of Hank Williams’ attitude and language on later  rock songwriters such as Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. It’s here.

Among song writers  quoted by Hickey are Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Harlan Howard, and Waylon Jennings. They speak in detail about the specific elements of Hank’s work and specific passages that  inspired, and more importantly taught them about song writing. Maud Newton has an excerpt from the essay in her review here.

This is an emotional moving day for Hank Williams’ fans. Indeed it is one of the most significant events in the Hank Williams’ story. He truly is immortal now.

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