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Posts Tagged ‘Lovesick Blues’

Arguably the most important day in the career and life of Hank Williams was spent at the Herzog Studios at 811 Race Street Cincinnati Ohio.

It was there that Hank recorded 8 tracks that were turning points in the great career.

Most importantly, December 22, 1948 was the date Hank Williams recorded his signature song at least during the years he was alive, ‘Lovesick Blues’. It’s true that many other Hank recordings many his own compositions,  have become more associated with the Hank Williams legacy following his tragic death on Janury 1, 1953.

But during his lifetime, from the day it was released, ‘Lovesick  Blues’ was Hank’s most famous song and he was known at every appearance whether in person or on radio,  as “The Lovesick Blues Boy”.

On Friday December 21 2013, in Cincinnati, at The Southgate Revival there will be a celebration of Hank’s two  recording session at Herzog December 22 1948 and August 30 1949. The occasion will be marked by the  release of a CD by ArloMcKinley called  the Hank 8, covering each of the recordings that were made on the two days. The celebration will include other musical acts as well and participants dressing in period 1940’s costumes.

Here are the Hank  Williams recordings at Herzog from December 22, 1948:
Lost on the River
There’ll be no Teardrops Tonight
I Heard My Mother Praying For Me
Lovesick Blues

From August 30, 1949
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
A House Without Love is Not a Home
I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Living
My Buckets Got a Hole in It

So there it is, from December ‘Lovesick Blues’ and There’ll be no Teardrops Tonight’, and from August ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’.
Hank fans sure appreciate the efforts of the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation to keep his name alive and strong in Cincinnati Ohio.
Here’s a great article about Herzog from Brian Turpen:
And finally, from Cincinnati. . . Hank Williams
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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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Hank Williams recorded ‘Lovesick Blues’ his breakout hit on December 22, 1948 at the Herzog Studios in Cincinnati Ohio. On the 62nd anniversary of that historic day the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation is holding a celebration at the Herzog Studio on Race Street.

This became somewhat more notable this month when it was announced that the Grammy Awards was putting the song in its recording Hall of Fame. The historical box set ‘The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings Plus’ is also nominated for a Grammy this year as Best Historical Album.

The Heritage Foundation has acquired the Herzog Studio and erected a plaque which commemorates all the famous artists who recorded there on one side and takes particular note of Hank Williams and ‘Lovesick Blues’ on the other side. This is the last surviving studio where Hank Williams recorded.

This Wednesday December 22, 2010 the Foundation is holding a Hank Williams Christmas Party at Herzog to commemorate the historic ‘Lovesick Blues’ recording day in 1948. Hank Williams historian and author Brian Turpen will be on hand to speak about the significance of Herzog and discuss and sign  his two books,  ‘Hank Williams and Billy Jean Jones’ and ‘Ramblin Man’. The celebration gets underway at 6:30 and will include a preview of a live record that was made back on the plaque unveiling day.

Here are the Hank  Williams recordings at Herzog from December 22, 1948:
Lost on the River
There’ll be no Teardrops Tonight
I Heard My Mother Praying For Me
Lovesick Blues

From August 30, 1949
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
A House Without Love is Not a Home
I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Living
My Buckets Got a Hole in It

Here’s a partial list of Country Music artists who recorded at Herzog.

Delmore Brothers, Patti Page, Homer and Jethro, Rex Allen, Flatt and Scruggs, Cowboy Copas, Bill Carlisle, Moon Mullican, Hawkshaw Hawkins.

I’ve been writing about the Heritage Foundation’s efforts to preserve the city’s music heritage since I started the blog a couple of years ago. Click Herzog to get a review.



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Cincinnati deserves a lot of credit for keeping alive the memory of Hank Williams. This is especially true for the group that has worked to preserve the historic Herzog Recording Studio in that city.

Hank Williams traveled to Ohio to for two recording sessions. The first produced ‘Lovesick Blues’ the song that made him a national singing star. The second session yielded ”I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’  one of his greatest self penned songs and the one that established and preserves his poetic gifts for all time.

Tonight (Aug 30, 2010) local artists Dallas Moore and Jody Payne long time Willie Nelson guitarist will put on a show called “Hank to Thank” and  record a CD and DVD live at the historic second floor studio. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to the preservation of the studio. This is the only studio where Hank Williams recorded professionally which is still standing.

And today marks 61 years to the day that Hank recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “A House Without Love,” “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin'” and “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It”, eight months after his first Herzog session in which the historic ‘Lovesick Blues was recorded over the objections of producer Fred Rose at the time.

Back on August  3rd  the  Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation announced that it had signed a one year lease  for the second floor at 811 Race Street, the former home of the E.T. Herzog Recording Co., with a $10,000 anonymous grant made through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. The Music Heritage Foundation plans to turn the space into its headquarters and use it for recordings, performances and exhibits.

Here’s the latest article from the Cincinnati  newspaper website.

I have written three earlier posts on the Herzog Studio. They can be found here.

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It was gratifying to see Hank Williams all over the news in Cincinnati last month.

A citizen’s group called The Cincinnati Music Foundation is working  hard to get a commemorative marker installed at the site of the Herzog Studio. Hank Williams and many other country artists traveled to Cincinatti in the late 40’s to record some of the biggest classics of the time.

The Foundation earlier had a marker placed at the historic King Studios where many famous Black R and B legends recorded. Wouldn’t it have been great if accidently Hank had met  and recorded a duet with one of the R and B greats? Didn’t happen I guess.  I mention this as I recall the story that Jimmie Rodgers’ great classic  ‘Standin on the Corner’ has Louis Armstrong on trumpet and Fatha Hines on piano. That’s the legend anyway.

An all star concert was held August 22nd to raise money for the project.

The studio site is important for Hank fans because two of Hank’s greatest recordings, his breakthrough upbeat rockabillky tinged classsic ‘Lovesick Blues’  and the heartbreaking anthem to loneliness ‘I’m so Lonesone I Could Cry’ were both recorded there in 1948 and 49. So there is added importance since this is the 60th anniversay of the second session.

Tip of the hat to the Hank Williams’ Discography which I’ve linked to on the contact list to the right for the following information.

Here are the Hank  Williams recordings at Herzog from December 22, 1948:
Lost on the River
There’ll be no Teardrops Tonight
I Heard My Mother Praying For Me
Lovesick Blues

From August 30, 1949
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
A House Without Love is Not a Home
I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Living
My Buckets Got a Hole in It

Here’s a partial list of Country Music artists who recorded at Herzog.

Delmore Brothers, Patti Page, Homer and Jethro, Rex Allen, Flatt and Scruggs, Cowboy Copas, Bill Carlisle, Moon Mullican, Hawkshaw Hawkins.

 

Apparently, one of the reasons for the trip north was the Pleasant Valley Boys, a group of Nashville all stars who moved to Cincinnati to appear on WLW Radio and a local Jamboree as well as playing back up at Herzog.

The personel on Hank’s recording at Herzog were: Tommy Jackson, fiddle; Jerry Byrd, steel; Zeke Turner, electric guitar; Louis Innes, rhythm; Clyde Baum, mandolin; and on bass, Willie Thawl in 48, and Ernie Newton in Aug. 49.

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Thanks so much to Tom Baxter for sending a comment in the previous post on Paul Hemphill’s funeral. I’m sure Hemphill  wanted Hank at his funeral and his wishes were followed.

I will repeat the comment from Baxter here for those who didn’t see it below:

I attended Paul’s funeral here in Atlanta. As his friend Angelo Fuster announced it would be, it was a very unconventional affair, beginning with the Hank Williams recording of “I Saw the Light,” and ending with “Lovesick Blues.” The program also included a reading, by four old friends, of the section from “Lovesick Blues” in which he recounted a weeklong trip in 1949 with his trucker father. It’s a great passage and perhaps the best I know on the subject of what Hank Williams’ music meant to working class Southerners in those years.

 Hemphill spent a lifetime as a professional writer. He wrote numerous books of both fiction and non-fiction. Included were ‘The Nashville Sound’ and ‘Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams’. As I said earlier, he treated country music artists with respect, not ridicule. A book I haven’t read, ‘Leaving Birmingham’ is considered a seminal work on southern culture.

I thought in ‘Lovesick Blues’ Hemphill tried to improve the previously skewered balance between Hank’s personal life and his achievement as an artist toward the artistic side.

The passage mentioned by Baxter above is only matched by Rick Bragg’s wonderful essay in the liner notes of  ‘Hank Williams Live at the Grand Old Opry’.

Thanks once again for the contribution from Tom Baxter.

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I was saddened to hear of the death of Paul Hemphill. His biography of Hank Williams published in 2005, helped revise the standard view of Hank as a man who was  consumed by booze, drugs, and debauchery and nothing else.  Hemphill made a sustained effort to bring more balance to the story of Hank Williams, in his book ‘Lovesick Blues, The Life of Hank Williams’.

The biography did not focus on revealing a lot of new sensational stories about Hank, although there are some, instead it focused on creating  a new appreciation for Hank Williams’ achievement as an artist, let’s look at the works of Hank Williams as well as the story.

In his acknowledgements, Hemphill gives special thanks to Don Helms, Marty Stuart, and Tom Robinson.

I liked his great love of the song ‘Your CheatinHeart’. He quotes the lines,

You’ll cry and cry,
And try to sleep,

several times. He seems to think the poetic simplicity, directness, and beauty of Williams’ language in this song, rivals the work of other legendary poets in the history of English writing.

Before his beautifully written and I think ground breaking book on Hank, Hemphill who was born in Birmingham, wrote a landmark book on country music in the early 70’s called ‘The Nashville Sound’. This book also treated country music and its stars  seriously as artists deserving of respect not ridicule. In ‘Lovesick Blues’ Hemphill explores is southern roots, and recalls first hearing Hank Williams on his father’s long distance trucker radio   as a young boy in 1949. 

In all Hemphill wrote nine non fiction books,and four works of fiction. He spent his life as a professional writer working as a newspaper columnist in Atlanta and writing for most of the major US magazines.

He was able to bring a wide range of experience, intelligence, artistic knowledge and sensibility, to the Hank Williams story. He made a valuable contribution to the Hank Williams legacy.

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