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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams’

I didn’t know that one of the greatest singers that ever lived recorded a Hank song and as usual created a definitive version. Dinah Washington.

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I was delighted to receive a comment written  on one of the posts on this site about the movie ‘The Last Ride’.

The movie never made it into general theatrical release and received mixed reviews to say the least.  It’s available on DVD  and on television now. If you search for ‘The Last Ride’ on the site you will get quite a bit of information about the film.

I’ll let this woman from Texas tell her story about seeing the movie and falling in love.

I am a 37 year old woman with 4 sons 19,17 ,and 20 month old twins….Scanning thru the tv guide i was able to watch the movie The Last Ride.  Always knowing Hank Williams by photo  but never a fan. Just thought his photos were of an old man almost like an enigma. But after watching this movie I immediately wanted to learn and hear anything Hank Williams. In one week i scoured the internet went to the library read 2 books and even have Hank Williams as a ringtone.

The movie helped express in my eyes Hank Williams as a human being, real not thus ghostly image you see in old pictures. I could feel pain humbleness even innocence of the times and how naive people were in that era….And although it shows Hank drinkin and that Dr. His presence is almost like Dr. death just waiting to take a man who was lonely and in desperate need for genuine loving care from someone who didn’t expect or want something from him.

Thank You for bringing this little mexican mama into the world of Hank!  Fan till I die.

P.S. the books I read said he visited my home town Corpus Christi Texas. …and i sure wished id been born then to see Hank Williams ……playing his honky tonk in the city by the ocean…..Love u Hank.

Thanks for your message.  You are a real fellow traveler in the world wide Hank community.

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It’s always gratifying to get a comment and a compliment as well.

I got this one on here a while ago and decided it was worth highlighting with a post of it’s own.

Just found this website and I enjoyed it very much. I met Hank Williams in 1951 when he was traveling with the Hadacal Caravan. I was a boy of 12 and surrounded by country music in my family. What a joy to hear him, then to get his autograph. He wrote “best wishes Hank Williams”. I knew I was witnessing history as his sound and presents was a memory for life.

Still have that autograph.

Wally Bredemeier
Kansas

Thanks  Wally

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I was hopeful that attorney Keith Adkinson, the husband of Jett Williams, might be able to untangle some of  mysteries surrounding the untimely death of Hank Williams on his final journey to a show in the last days of 1952. Adkinson and Williams had vowed in a Newsletter last year to tackle and solve the 60 year old mystery once and for all.

Sadly the untimely death of Adkinson, who successfully proved Jett Williams was the legitimate daughter of Hank Williams and co heir to his estate, will  now be cut short.

I have received thousands of visitors to a blog posting I did on this issue. HERE. Make sure you read the comments section which has articles from people claiming special knowledge of the death of Hank Williams.

A lot of the interest in the death of hank Williams has been stirred up by the recent film ‘The Last Ride’ which has just come out on DVD, Blu Ray and download.

Here’s a list of all the Blog Posts I’ve done on the film. There sure are a lot!

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Very informative lengthy taped interview with the author of the distinctive Hank Williams’ guitar sound, Don Helms.

This interview was done at the Hank Williams’ Festival in June 1997 by Tom Casesa. He is a New York based musician and visual artist.

Casera asks a lot of good questions and drills down a bit into some interesting topics. When you hear these interviews you often say why didn’t he ask this? That didn’t happen too much in this interview. Tom seems to have gained Don Helms’ trust so he’s very honest. The interview is on You Tube with still pictures.

Thanks to Robert Ackerman for sending it along and Tom Casesa for sharing it with Hank Williams fans through Robert.

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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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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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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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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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With ‘The Last Ride’ now having opened in some major centers including New York, reviews seem largely negative but there is one  genuine rave from a respected film critic which I have saved to the end..

Writers are quite dismissive of the script which many think, in the words of Andrew Lapin at National Public Radio is “short on actual information about Hank Williams”, and makes “Hank Williams takes a back seat” in the film. Pretty tough from an organization that is usually a Hank booster.

In a magazine called ‘Film Journal’ Daniel Egan says the “film doesn’t have much of interest about the singer”. And ‘Village Voices’ Mark Holcombe says the movie has “taken liberties with the facts”.

These writers are all concerned, along with I suppose many true Hank Williams’ fans, that the main story is really fictionalized. For example, the character who is the young teenage driver on the fatal trip  doesn’t know who Hank Williams is. There is a way too much attention on that character, played by Jesse James, according to a lot of critics. ‘The New York Times’ Jeannette Catsoulis goes so far as to call it a “low budget road movie”.

Another strong criticism and  all and  writers just hate this,it that no actual Hank Williams’ recordings are used anywhere in the movie. You never hear his voice. The soundtrack, they say, is mediocre and therefore the movie fails to explain who Hank Williams is, and how an important figure in American musical history he has become.

On the positive side, most of the reviewers I have read so far have very positive things to say about Henry Thomas’ portrayal of Hank Williams which clearly rises far above the rest of the movie and makes the best of the  weak script.

But there is one movie critic and a pretty important one who must have made the producers overjoyed. Rex Reed a famous film reviewer writing in ‘The New York Observer’ calls Thomas’ performance  “a star performance and a poignant experience”. He calls it a “fascinating film, satisfying and sincere”. But he also says the producers should have used original Hank Williams recordings.

Here are a couple of longer quotes to give you the tone of Reed’s rave review.

The Last Ride, carefully directed by Harry Thomason and skillfully written with chords and spaces for humming and breathing by Howie Klausner and Dub Cornett, hauntingly and sensitively negotiates the final three days in the life and death of a legendary character of mythic proportions, warts and all.

 The review ends with this paragraph:
Still, it’s a fascinating film that I enjoyed thoroughly. The Last Ride doesn’t come with a break-the-bank budget and full-page marketing displays, but it is well worth looking for if you’re in the mood for a movie that is captivating, an evocation of a time when the South and its music were on the cusp of change, and just a little bit different. It’s satisfying and sincere in ways most of the big-budget junk currently taking up space on summer marquees never dreamed of.

I should say that Reed accepts more of the script as being factual than some of the other critics. But beyond any doubt this is the best written review I have seen so far. The use of a quote from ‘I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry’ in the ‘New York Observer’ headline is heartbreaking.

Here is his full review. 

Here’s a direct quote from the movie that a lot of true Hank Williams’s fans will understand and appreciate. About his career and fame, the script writers have Hank say: “Not a damn bit of it matters for nothin.”

Here’s the movie website.

And finally here is a complete list of the many, many, many, posts about ‘The Last Ride’ on this humble little blog.

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