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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams live’

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.

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An early country video collector with many years experience says it’s unlikely more Hank Williams video will be discovered.

Ken Campanile contacted me after reading my two posts on Hank video from the ‘Kate Smith Show’.

Ken says WSM appearance were not recorded and Perry Como appearance seems to be lost:

I’ve been on the search for Hank Williams video footage for about 25 years. I’ve heard all the rumors and urban legends.

The WSM footage is probably gone forever. In those days, there wasn’t any video tape only kinescopes. And the small stations, didn’t film the shows.

Now the networks did film (kinescope). So there’s always hope that the Como show film shows up in someone’s attic, basement or garage. I’m keeping hope alive…

Thanks to Ken for more information on the Jimmie Rodgers film made away back in 1929 over 30 years before Hank Williams’ death:

And I don’t know if you knew this but there’s actually 6 complete songs on film by Jimmie Rodgers. The Columbia short, The Singing Brakeman was actually shot twice. The first one shows a date of 1929 in the credits and is directed by Jasper Ewing Brady. The second one is dated 1930 and the director was Basil Smith. The second one from 1930 was released by the Yazoo video company on VHS and DVD on the compilation Times Ain’t Like They Used to Be and it came from an original 35mm print, which means the picture quality is superb (compared to the grainy copies of the 1929 versions floating around among collectors). I have both versions in my collection.

I was so impressed as a viewed this video once again after a few years that I decided to put it up here for you:

Thanks Ken for your help on this.

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As I was discussing in Part 1, there is very little video of Hank Williams performing with live audio. The only readily accessible songs come from the Kate Smith Show in 1952. They are ‘Hey Good Lookin’, ‘Cold, Cold Heart’, and ‘I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love with You’. There is film without sound of Hank walking around and some of performance without sound.

The accessibility of video has been made much more difficult especially for newcomers by the ill-conceived practice of using the limited video available from Kate Smith and dubbing the recordings of other songs over the existing video. This is a stupid idea. It does absolutely nothing to further or enhance Hank Williams’ legacy or reputation. The dubbing is so poorly done  it makes the performer  look like he can’t get the words straight, since his  lips don’t sync with the words, and the expressions don’t fit with the sentiments in the recording. Seeing one of these would be enough to drive a newcomer to Hank Williams away, and he or she might never return.

The absolute worst case of this occurred in the 90’s when a newly discovered recording called ‘There’s a Tear in My Beer’ was dubbed over one of the Kate Smith videos and then Hank Williams Junior foolishly allowed himself to be taped in the same picture doing a so-called “duet” with his father. What a sad day that was.

Hank’s performance of ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ on Kate Smith is a masterpiece. Although not much more than 6 months from death and suffering from excruciating back pain after surgery in December, Hank delivers every word of this masterpiece at the peak of his powers. There is a point in this video at the end when the camera comes right in close and Hank looks straight into the lens  and he knows Audrey is back home watching and he just lays it out with  devastating force. The woman could never have been the same after that night.

Here it is:

Many would say ‘I Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love with You’ is Hank’s greatest. It’s one of his masterpieces of concise poignant language, and the creation of images and situations which say more than words and stay with you forever: “Today I passed you on the street, And my heart fell at your feet”.

This video is very short. Obviously this song had to be cut to face the time restraints of live TV. It’s a duet with the magnificent Anita Carter with her  pure beautiful voice and expression. Many will recall that later she became a frequent duet partner with Hank Snow and they produced many memorable recordings.

The song begins with Anita alone, then Hank comes on the set and sings ‘Someone new stood by your side and he looked so satisfied’. I’ve always thought this was one of the most beautifully delivered lines in the Hank Williams’ canon.

This video was made about 8 months from Hank’s death. Notice as he comes into view, you can see how thin he is, as his left shoulder-blade almost seems visible under his shirt.

As mentioned Hank sang in group settings at the Kate Smith Show. You can easily find the closing cast rendition of ‘I Saw the Light’ on You Tube.

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I see there is audio of the Sunset Park Pennsylvania Hank Williams concert up on You Tube again. This 30 minute taping only 5 and  a half months from his death shows Hank in great form with lots of witty little asides and his powerful, at his best, singing voice.  However the vocals are diminished by  poor recording quality, obviously done on amateur equipment.

This recording was on You Tube earlier but disappeared around the time Time Life was announcing the release of the ‘Lost Recordings’ CD. That CD came out in mid October and also contains a live recording made in Niagara Falls New York around the same time. That one isn’t on You Tube.

Time Life doesn’t send me any information on any of their Hank Williams releases so I am quite happy to post this recording. However, I imagine once  thousands? of visitors start rushing to the site, it will come down again. Enjoy.

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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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