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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams video’

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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One of the unfortunate aspects of the Hank Williams story following his death is the discovery realization that there is almost no video of Hank Williams in performance.

Ironically, because he made a movie short in the early thirties we have some excellent very clear video and audio of Jimmie Rodgers, even though he died 20 years before Hank Williams. And there is a lot  of video of Hank Williams’ contemporaries such as Hank Snow, and Left Frizzel recorded on TV shows which  were up and running by the early to mid fifties.

Hank Williams video with real live sound is sadly limited to his two appearances on the Kate Smith Show from New York in March and April 1952. Film of an earlier appearance on the Perry Como show may exist but has not surfaced for public consumption. And he also appeared on WSM TV in Nashville but apparently  video has been destroyed or just not shared.  You have to remember that TV at that time would have been like radio and simply sent out on the airwaves with no back up.

The Kate Smith kinescopes, in which a film camera records off a TV screen, contain only 2 songs with Hank performing alone, ‘Hey Good Lookin’ and ‘Cold, Cold Heart, plus one stunning never to be forgotten duet with Anita Carter on ‘I Can’t Help it if I’m Still in Love with You’. Finally, the Grand Old Opry cast including Hank sing ‘I Saw The Light’, and ‘Glory Bound Days’.

On this post, I am putting up a long clip of 6 minutes or so featuring June Carter because  I’m sure many of you would love to see her  as a young woman in 1952 many years before her long marriage to Johnny Cash. Hank comes in at about the 4 minute mark.

Finally I want to note that I fully realize that Hank Williams fans of long-standing are fully aware of these videos and have watched them many times.

But by far the majority of visitors to this site come from search engines and may be looking for Hank for the first time. We so desperately need  a new generation of Hank Williams fans. I try not to assume that young people know any of a the background. Seeing these videos for the first time here on this site could be a moving and life altering experience.

I will post more videos in Part 2.

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