Sometimes in this media world we live in with the onslaught of self important celebrities coming at us like armies over the hills, it can be a little thing which can reveal who is really important. Can reveal an artist from 60 years ago whose persona and his works have survived all the onslaughts of competition from both high and low culture to remain permantly in our artistic consciousness.
This is the kind of cultursl figure who a famous writer of today can use to make a little joke at someone else’s expense and we all get it. You don’t need to explain it; we all GET IT!
I guess there’s a bit of a scandal in American politics about a representative who sent some naughty pictures via texting and tweeting to some questionable women without his wife’s knowledge.
At the New York Times the most famous political and cultural columnist is a woman called Maureen Dowd.
This week Dowd ran a column basically tearing a few strips off this politician and a few others like him who have been caught doing really stupid things involving relationships with women they should have avoided if they valued their marriages and their political careers.
Finally the point. You can check it out. New York Times, Op Ed section Wednesday June 8, 2011.
The title of the column:
“Your Tweetin’ Heart”, that’s right: “Your Tweetin’ Heart”.
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East Coast liberals love Hank. At least somebody at the New York Times does. The prestigious paper has published another article on Hank. I’ve been surprised by the number of Hank stories in The Times just since I started this blog in November of 2008.
Sadly, like much recent activity about Hank, the article focusses on the death of Hank Williams.
The piece in the Friday August 13th edition is by Mary Woodroof and describes a journey to Oak Hill West Virginia the site of Hank Williams’ death in the early morning hours of January 1st 1953. By the way, Woodroof spends the first few paragraphs describing how her journey to Hank Williams’ music came through Emmy Lou Harris who was the subject of the previous post on this blog.
She describes her growing appreciation of Hank Williams in these words:
It was only after I’d had a lot of the pretentiousness knocked out of me by my own addiction struggles that I came to understand all this was beside the point. Hank Williams didn’t write songs for hillbillies; he wrote songs for anybody interested in facing life with a modicum of openness and honesty.
Woodroof describes her conversations with Oak Hill natives as she seeks to find the filling station where it was discovered that Hank Williams was dead. She describes her feeling at the now vacant site of Burdette’s Pure Oil.
To me, there is no romance in such a death; and not much in the life that leads to it. I get to say this because I, too, once flirted seriously with self-destruction and know that when you’re an addict, the rest of your life is a shadow no matter how many songs you write or places you go or people you please. Or how many good times you have, for that matter. There’s no bargaining with alcohol and drugs once you have to have them. You either stop drinking and using or you die.
The article is called ‘Sharing Demons with Hank Williams’. Martha Woodroof is a novelist and works at public radio station WMRA in Virginia.
Here’s the link.
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The New York Times has handed out another rave review of ‘The Unreleased Recordings’. This one came in a November 27th article on Box Sets for Christmas giving. Several of the top Box Sets of 2008 were reviewed. Here’s the complete article on Hank Williams:
HANK WILLIAMS, ‘THE UNRELEASED RECORDINGS’ Many of Hank Williams’s studio records were nearly perfect, and his voice-and-guitar demos have a trudging, spooky power. But this is something new: three hours’ worth of radio performances with his band, recorded for 15-minute spots on the Nashville station WSM in 1951, at Williams’s commercial peak and before his health turned. (About a year later he would be dead.) Upbeat, he calls out to soloists in his band with satisfaction and pours himself into the performance. His wife Audrey, talentless at singing, is not here: a big plus. The repertory forms a trustworthy picture of his sound world: not just his own songs but white and black gospel, cowboy tunes, obscure contemporary nothings (“You Blotted My Happy Schooldays”), a weirdly breathtaking “On Top of Old Smoky.” And his voice! These recordings get the fullness and breadth of it, the cool, plummy croon turning to a hot laser through some trick of throat and nose. Truly one of the best records ever. (Time-Life, three CDs, $39.98.) BEN RATCLIFF
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