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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams Jr.’

Thank goodness Hank Williams Sr. didn’t have to bother with all those Monday Night Football gigs and was able to vault right over his son Jr. and go straight to the Super Bowl.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7USr2kriO8

The singer on the commercial is Sugarlands Jennifer Nettles.

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You can’t be anything but excited to hear that a major motion picture on Hank Williams  with significant funding and the involvement of Universal Studios is in the works.

Two companies, 821 Entertainment Group and Striker Entertainment will produce the biopic which will be offered to Universal for actual production.

This sounds like the kind of financial heft and depth which could see Hank Williams get the same treatment recently offered to Ray Charles and Johnny Cash.

The key to putting the deal together appears to be the support of the Hank Williams’ estate represented by Hank Williams Jr and Jett Williams. Of course the two came together to bring the ‘Unreleased Recordings’ based on the Mother’s Best radio shows to the public for the first time last fall, and that was a respectful, classy, impressive 3 CD release.

Personally, I’m disappointed that the intellectual and artistic control of the picture will be under handed over to  Colin Escott. Escott is doubtless the number one scholar and author  on the life and works of Hank Williams.  He’s written the most comprehensive biography: ‘Hank Williams: The Biography’ on which the movie will be based. Escott has also written liner notes for numerous Hank Albums includingt the recent ‘Unreleased’ and other articles, books, and TV shows including the PBS special.  Escott will be associate producer of the new film.

My problem is that, in my opinion, Escott has greatly overplayed the negative aspects of Hank Williams’ life. Everybody and their uncle was apparently more than willing to tell an unsavory, salacious story about Hank. Every single one seems to have made it into Escott’s books. I prefer the statement from Don Helms who said he did not recognize the Hank Williams he knew for so many years, in any of the Hank Williams biographies he read.

Hank Jr has also stated that he doesn’t believe it was all gloom and doom portrayed in the Hank Biographies. I like this quote from, ironically, Colin Escott’s book ‘Snapshots from the Lost Highway’:

Some people had the misconception that Daddy was rolling and lolling in sorrow, or lived with the whiskey bottle in his hand 24 hours a day, and that’s not the way it was. . . . You can hear anything, you can read anything, but if you sit down and listen to his albums, you will know him and you can make own analysis. Just listen, you don’t need anyone to explain anything to you.

To me the tide is starting to turn: The debauchery trumps artistry portrayal is diminishing. I hope Hank’s status as an artist will triumph over  the endless stories in this new movie.

I am hopeful that the involvement  and cooperaton of the Hank Williams’ estate willl bring to the project the professionalism and style and class we saw in the ‘The Unreleased Recordings’. The involvement of the Hank Williams’ estate also means the original Hank Williams recordings can be used in the production.

That being said, I like the quotes from one of the producers, Marc Abraham:

“It is hard to measure the excitement I feel and. . . the sense of responsibility,” he said. He added, “I have loved Hank Williams’ music from the time I was a small kid growing up in Kentucky. I truly believe that a story based on the pain and glory of Hank Williams’ life – one of America’s greatest artists – can be a thrilling motion picture and at the same time, it can examine the power and influence of art and music in our lives.

The offical press release quotes Colin Escott but it’s hard to make much from his quote:

Hank Williams’ life and career almost demand to be made into a movie, and I feel that the team associated with this production can deliver the Hank Williams movie we’ve always wanted to see.”

As I reported earlier a film maker from Alabama is also planning Hank Williams movie.

And of course I recall watching a film called ‘Your Cheatin Heart’ way back in 1964 starring George Hamilton which soon disappeared from sight due to legal wrangling within the Hank Williams’ estate. I see the movie is apparently for sale on the internet in DVD format.

The tell the  truth  at the time I thought George did a pretty good job of portraying Hank. No accounting for taste I guess.

But seriously,  this is all good, and will do wonders for Hank Williams’ place in musical history if it is done well. But I  still wish they werre using the late Paul Hemphill biography ‘Lovesick Blues’ plus some of the memoirs left by Don Helms and others to portray the real Hank Williams.

Oh well, now we can settle back and speculate who among the current crop of Hollywood stars would make the best Hank Williams. And how will Audrey, Billy Jean,  and Hank’s mother be treated in the latest version of Hank’s life, and the one that will, for better or worse, become the official version of Hank’s life for millions of people  and will endure for years  into the future?

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Robert ‘Hank’ Ackerman likes Hank Williams Jr.’s new album. The album is getting a lot of positive reviews from the critics. Ackerman says the songs referring to Hank Sr. are particularly strong.

I think the latest Hank Jr CD, titled “127 Rose Avenue” is one I will listen to a lot…. it has a great selection and variety of songs and there is a whole lot of Hank (Sr) in this one.  This CD, for my taste and in my opinion, reminds me of some of the older Hank Jr music … of course the title song relates to his Daddy’s Boyhood Home in Georgiana, Alabama, and there is a track titled “Last Driftin’ Cowboy” that is a wonderful tribute to the late Don Helms.  (And if you like “country blues” you will love Hank Jr’s latest version of “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”).  This is a keeper for sure.

In the prestigious  New York Times,  Ben Ratliff writes a fairly long but somewhat mixed review. He thinks the recession based political songs on the album are a bit “heavy handed” and overdone. But, like Ackerman he likes the songs reflecting on the Hank Williams era. 

A pair of tracks in the middle of the record meditate on his father, and typically they represent the album’s conceptual high point. “Last Driftin’ Cowboy” is a two-parter: first the song talks in the posthumous voice of Don Helms, the steel-guitar player for Hank Williams Sr.’s band, who says that Hank Sr. was not a sad man; he knew how to have fun. Then it slows down to lament Helms’s death. And in the title song — the street address of Hank Sr.’s boyhood home in Georgiana, Ala. — a visitor conjures the spirit of his father. It’s hokey, but kind of real: there is a museum there, after all.

I was a really big Hank Jr fan in the early years and had a collection of 5 or 6 vinyl albums from the 70’s and 80’s. I may have one cassette but no CD’s, so I guess that tells you when I lost interest. The guns, survival, football, and political stuff sort of lost me. I’m looking forward to this album with  real working class and Hank Sr themes.

It is being reviewed all over, so a Goggle search will yield lots of information.

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Washington Square News the newspaper of New York University has nothing but posiitve things to say about Hank Williams and the new box set based on the Mother’s Best Flour radio shows from 1951.

The reviewer, Mike Miller, unfortunately  spends his first two paragraphs trashing Hank Jr. which is his right but it just didn’t fit into this review. However Miller is well within the bounds of fair comment when he compares the power of these Hank Williams’ performances to modern country which he says: “strips away all sincerity, packaging it in an embarrassing ensemble consisting of cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat. Listening to Hank Williams today is bittersweet.”

He goes on to say, “His voice has never sounded clearer, his guitar never more cutting and he has never come across so tragically human.”

Finally, before taking a few more shots at modern country, he says, “Williams and his band the Drifting Cowboys made undeniably beautiful music: His voice sounds the way a broken heart feels; listening to Don Helms’ steel guitar is like watching your father cry.”

This a fairly short review with a few reader comments on the end about the writer’s strong opinions of Hank Jr. and modern country.  It’s here.

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