Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Music of Hank Williams

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I don’t think I could overstate the importance of Hank Williams to the music of the past and present.  His material is absolutely timeless and fills a space in musical history between Jazz/Blues and the beginnings of Rock n’ Roll.  Not to mention the fact that he was one of the original tragic figures in music, living a life of hard drinkin’ and misery.  Hank Williams burned out way before Hendrix, Joplin, or other countless stars.

I just finished reading a biography on Hank Williams and although the book wasn’t great, it was enjoyable and enlightened me to quite a few things I did not know about Country Music’s greatest star.

Here are some interesting facts.

1.  Hanks real name was Hiram King Williams.

2.  At age eleven Williams began learning to play and sing the blues from an old Blues man by the name of Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne.  Sadly there are no known recordings of Payne and he died and was buried in an unmarked grave in the late 30’s.

3.  The women in Hank’s life were forces to be reckoned with.  First of all you had his mother Lillie who brought him up by herself after his father left at an early age.  In 1944 Hank married another tough and uncompromising woman by the name of Audrey.

4.  Although Williams wrote most of his own material he definitely had help.  In 1946 Hank struck up a professional relationship with a Nashville’s own Tin Pan Alley songwriter by the name of Fred Rose.  Hank came up with the basics and then Fred would edit the lyrics and tune up the music.  He also took care of the business side including the recording and relations with the record company.

5.  During the last few years of his career, Williams recorded music under the pseudonym “Luke the Drifter”.  The material was what he called “Recitations” but could more clearly be described as religious themed stories of morality.

6.  In 1952 after he was divorced from his first wife Audrey, he decided to insert himself into Country Musics famous Carter family.  For a short while he even courted one of the Carter daughters and almost accidentally shot June Carter (yes, June Carter – wife of Johnny Cash) during an argument with Audrey his first wife.

7.  Hank died on the way to a New Years show on New Years Day 1953 in the back of his famous powder blue convertible.

I put together a list of my favorite Hank Williams songs.  If you do not see the embedded playlist below, follow this link.

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Playlist: Songs To Be Obsessed With – Volume 4

Please enjoy a new batch of songs that I’ve been obsessed with over the last 6 months or so.  Here is a more detailed list of what you will find in the playlist at the bottom of this post.

1) “Misunderstood” by Wilco (6:28)from Being There – 1996.
2) “Borrowed Tune” by Neil Young (3:26) from Tonight’s The Night – 1975.
3) “Shine A Light” by Rolling Stones (4:16) from Exile On Main Street – 1972.
4) “Long as I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (3:34) from Cosmos Factory – 1970.
5) “I Saw The Light” by Williams, Hank (2:44) from the single of the same name – 1948.
6) “Acuff-Rose” by Uncle Tupelo (2:35) from Anodyne – 1993.
7) “School Days” by Wainwright, Loudon, III (3:06) from Album I – 1970.
8) “The Mess Inside” by Mountain Goats (3:35) from All Hail West Texas – 2002.
9) “Surrounded” by Mountain Goats & John Vanderslice (2:21) from Moon Colony Bloodbath – 2009.
10) “Wind and the Dove” by Bill
Callahan (4:34) from Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle – 2009.
11) “Tape From California” by Phil Ochs (6:47) from Tape From California – 1968.
12) “Sunny South Kensington” by Donovan (3:46) from Mellow Yellow – 1967.
13) “Oh! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie (3:15) from Hunky Dory – 1971.
14) “Photograph” by Ringo Starr (3:57) from Ringo – 1973.
15) “Collect Call” by Metric (4:46) from Fantasies – 2009.
16) “Little Bit” by Lykke Li (4:34) from Youth Novels – 2008.
17) “Very Loud” by Shout Out Louds (4:05) from Howl Howl Gaff Gaff – 2005.
18) “Treason” by Teardrop Explodes (2:58) from Kilimanjaro – 1980.
19) “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues” by Handsome Furs (2:43) from Face Control – 2009.

(If you do not see the embedded playlist below please follow this link. )

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