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Hank Williams, Sr.: “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)”

There isn’t too much video of Hank Williams on YouTube. There is, for some reason, an almost unbelievable number of covers of his songs. My guess is that the reason is that they are terrific songs–and fairly simple.

Of particular interest is I Saw the Light because of the back story below and the mistake Williams makes at the start.

“I Saw the Light” is a 1948 gospel song written and first performed by Hank Williams, not to be confused with the hit song by Todd Rundgren or the No. 1 country hit by Wynonna Judd.

With poetic lyrics, such as “I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin/I wouldn’t let my dear Savior in,” the song was written about Williams’ religious convictions despite his alcoholic vices. Though the song was not a commercial success upon its first release, it has become one of the songs most closely associated with Williams.

Here are Cold Cold Heart and Your Cheatin Heart, which was not released until after William’s death.

I’m partial to the great opening rhyme of Honky Tonkin’:

When you are sad and lonely and have no place to go
Come and see me baby, and bring along some dough
And we’ll go honky tonkin’, honky tonkin’.

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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