The Liner/Sleeve Notes:
“His career was brief and ended suddenly at the age of 29 on New Years Day, 1953. By that time the legendary Hank Williams had gone from a poor country boy to becoming one of the best-loved performers in country music. People who were fortunate enough to have known him speak with a fondness for a dear friend. Even those who only know him through his music speak with that special emotion reserved for only a few. Such is the impact of Hank Williams.
Born on a farm near the little town of Georgianna, Alabama, his family was very poor, but there was music. He sang in the local church choir and, when he was eight, received a beat up old guitar. Music became his life. The days were difficult and Hank used to earn extra pennies by shining shoes in the local shoe shop. But, by the time he was fourteen Hank Williams had his own group of musicians, played the local dances and even managed to have a regular radio show. It was from there to appearing in medicine shows, country bars, fairs and then… the Grand Ole Opry and stardom.
He joined MGM Records in 1947 shortly after the company had been formed and became their first signed recording artist. His early records showed evidence of a true country great. By 1949 this was further emphasized with the release and tremendous success of Lovesick Blues. The song became Hank’s first major hit and skyrocketed him right to the top. Between that year and 1953 Hank Williams wrote and recorded many songs, eleven of which sold at least one million copies each. Those are just the ones Hank recorded himself. The high figure in such a brief period doesn’t take into account the numerous recordings of Hank Williams tunes by other artists.
It’s not possible to pinpoint one reason for the tremendous impact Hank Williams had on the world of music. His effect was the result of a combination of things. His lyrics have a special quality which speak of the truth. As he performed he established a personal rapport with his audience due to the implied connections between the feelings of the songs and his own personal experience. In his faster songs he had the ability to create a sense of urgency and excitement. He could hit the up-tempo tunes with fervor and then just as easily turn to the blues and tell a poignant story. Never once was the listener doubting his word. Hank Williams had his own story to tell and he did it with a whole lotta heart and soul.
Following the early dues-paying years and after the success of Lovesick Blues, he formed his own permanent group, The Drifting Cowboys. This further established his musical trademark of steel guitar and fiddle plus predominant rhythms on electric guitar. The Drifting Cowboys or Hank Williams sound was the forerunner of what was later to become known as “The Nashville Sound.”
Hank Williams was an innovator, but not just for the sake of innovation. It just naturally happened. Hank Williams proved that a country and western song could enjoy popular success. The song that did it was Cold, Cold Heart in 1950. It was a popular as well as country hit for Hank and later, Tony Bennett. No doubt Bennett and the many others who benefitted from recording a Hank Williams song recognized the universality of his lyrics and their special appeal. Few men have written so many standards in such a short career. Few men have had their songs recorded by such a vast and varied company of artists as Hank Williams. He’s been recorded by everyone from Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino to Teresa Brewer to The Lovin’ Spoonful and Buffalo Springfield. Your Cheatin’ Heart alone was recorded by over fifty artists.
As the 1950’s opened, so did a new era in music. Until that time major radio was dominated by the so-called popular or ballad sound. Country music and rhythm and blues were relegated to specialty stations, each with their strong and faithful following. Hank and people like Eddy Arnold and Slim Whitman were enjoying a tremendous success in their area and other artists began to take notice. Soon crossovers in style began. A rhythm and blues man might give his version of a country tune and vice versa. Later, and in his area, Elvis Presley and his merging of country and rock brought these musical marriages to the apex.
In those early fifties, Hank Williams was the man in the forefront. Besides Tony Bennett, his songs provided giant hits for a number of stars; Jambalaya (Jo Stafford), Half As Much (Rosemary Clooney), and Hey, Good Lookin’ (Jo Stafford and Frankie Laine) to name a few.
Hank Williams introduced country music to a broader audience that first time around, and posthumously did it again a decade later in the mid-sixties. Musically the tie was high on folk-rock with such performers as Bob Dylan, Sonny and Cher, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkle and the Turtles. Some of them wrote their own music exclusively but leaned heavily toward country. Others recorded country. They all looked toward the songs of Hank Williams for inspiration.
There’s no doubt that Hank Williams rates words of acclaim such as immortal or legendary. They’re special words which should be reserved for the proper occasion. In the case of Hank Williams, there’s no doubt as to their appropriateness. His influence on the world of music is immeasurable. This is known by all people and was recognized by his Nashville friends and peers who unanimously elected him into the Country Music Hall of Fame during its first year, 1961. The words on his bronze plaque are simply stated but reflect the fondness held toward this man.
Hank’s personal life is well-known. It was full of strong love, intense moments of disappointment and also happiness. No doubt the fact that his son, Hank Williams, Jr., is carrying on the tradition set by his father can rank high on the happiness side. Like his father, Hank, Jr. began performing at the age of 14 when he made his first recording. Later he began recording some of his father’s songs, most notably in the MGM motion picture, Your Cheatin’ Heart which depicted Hank, Sr.’s life. People were a little way of a song trying take over from such a great man, but Hank, Jr. has been able to dismiss their questions and proven himself on his own. This became particularly evident when audiences saw him on stage. They were able to view the perforing side of Hank Williams, Jr. closeup. His impact is strong. He’s his won man and very proud of his tradition. Together Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Jr. will never be forgotten in country music, or any music.
– Richard Oliver
ABOUT THIS RECORDING
Along with presenting some of the most loved songs by one of the true greats in country music, this recording is of special significance in presenting little known facts about Hank Williams. Considerable research into Hank’s life has revealed information heretofore unknown, including a warm generosity for helping others. All of this is presented in a special narration between songs spoken by his song, Hank Williams, Jr. Also included is a seldom-heard poem Hank Williams wrote to his son and a duet between father and son made possible through electronic overdubbing. This is the result of months of detailed planning combined with care and affection in documenting the life of a man whose music and influence will never fade.”
Every single person has to know who Hank Williams is, he basically was the guy who got a lot of musicians into country, he was a badass and he had a lot of great songs, and a hell of a voice to match.
So, the A-Side opens with “Lovesick Blues” – and you know Hank, it comes out amazingly, then it goes to narration by Hank Jr. talking about Hank’s life, and his grandparents – and I never heard Hank 2 talk, but it’s cool. Then it’s followed by “I Saw the Light” and it’s a good song, I think it’s a gospel song? Possibly. It’s good though, Hank has a really good voice. Then it goes into Hank Jr. talking about Hank being lonely, and Hank Jr. says Hank is the greatest – then it goes into “Cold, Cold Heart” and once more Hank goes into performing another great country track. I love the guitar playing. Then it goes back to Hank Jr. talking about how Hank could convey his feelings. Then comes one of my favorite Hank tracks “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and this song on it’s own is the greatest thing ever, if I could have one song, it’d be this one.
The B-Side opens with another Hank Jr. narration, and Hank liked baseball and hunting, and shooting and the outdoors. “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” follows, and did you know the opening line is from a conversation between him and a friend. I love how Hank hits them high notes. Then there comes another Hank Jr. talking again about Hank’s back injury which lead him to his drug use. “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” comes next, and Hank delivers beautifully, the song lyrics are amazing and Hank’s vocals are the best. After that comes “Kaw-Liga” and Hank does some pretty neat things with his voice, when he sings the song title, and the drum and violin playing is quite amazing. The violin especially is great. Then we go back to Hank, Jr. talking some more, and how his dad was like a meteor, and with the unusual space music in the background. Hank was definitely like a meteor. Then comes “Move It On Over” which ends the B-Side and it’s a pretty good ending track, and another one of my personal favorites. It’s one of those less sappy country tracks.
The C-Side opens with some piano playing, in the key of “Move It On Over” before going to Hank Jr., and they talk about how Hank couldn’t sing “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It” at the Opry due to the mention of beer, so he changed it to milk. “Lovesick Blues” comes again, the first one was only 40 seconds of it, this is the full track now, so it’s good. Then we go back to Hank, Jr. talking again, and basically what is said in the liner notes says. Then comes another one of my favorite Hank Williams tracks, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” follows next, and well, it’s amazing, do I need to say more about how great this track is? Then we go back to a narration by Hank, Jr. and he goes on about how Hank Jr. didn’t know much about his father. Then it goes into a poem written by Hank and performed by Hank Jr. – “Recitation: Little Bocephus” – and well, it’s a poem, a personal one, I think it would be weird to review it.
The D-Side opens with “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love With You” and that is a really long title but the song is pretty good so far, I can’t complain about it. It’s a nice song, and Hank is good at singing, so it’s pretty great. Then it goes back to Hank, Jr. talking about his father again. Hank, Jr. talks about how he wishes he could’ve met his dad, or sung a duet, or a whole bunch of other things. Then it goes about to play the song “May You Never Be Alone” featuring Hank Jr, on vocals electronically. Hey, it’s not bad either! Yup, it’s a good song. I quite like it. Then it goes back to Hank Jr. talking about his dad, and his drinking issues, and his life. Really sentimental stuff here. Then goes into the track “Hank” sung by Hank Williams, Jr. and you know, this is the first time I heard Hank Jr. sing and he’s really good at singing. I want some Hank Williams, Jr. records. Next time!
A1 – Hank Williams – Lovesick Blues
A2 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
A3 – Hank Williams – I Saw the Light
A4 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
A5 – Hank Williams – Cold, Cold Heart
A6 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
A7 – Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
B1 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
B2 – Hank Williams – Long Gone Lonesome Blues
B3 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
B4 – Hank Williams – I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive
B5 – Hank Williams – Kaw-Liga
B6 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
B7 – Hank Williams – Move It on Over
C1 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
C2 – Hank Williams – Lovesick Blues
C3 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
C4 – Hank Williams – Your Cheatin’ Heart
C5 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
C6 – Hank Williams – Recitation: Little Bocephus
D1 – Hank Williams – I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)
D2 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
D3 – Hank Williams & Hank Williams, Jr. – May You Never Be Alone
D4 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Narration
D5 – Hank Williams, Jr. – Hank
Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Produced by Jim Vinneau
Script Written by Tom McEntee
Engineered by Mort Thomasson
Back Cover Photography by Henry Schofield
Other Albums I Own by Hank Williams:
“24 Greatest Hits”
“24 of Hank Williams Greatest Hits”
“24 Karat Hits”
“The Very Best of Hank Williams”
Other Albums I Own by Hank Williams, Jr:
“24 Karat Hits”