Playlist: Five From Hank Williams

Hank Williams, Sr. was a transitional figure in American music in general and country music in particular. AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine starts his profile with the stark fact that Williams’ his fame lasted all of four years:

Hank Williams is the father of contemporary country music. He was a superstar by the age of 25; he was dead at the age of 29. In those four short years, he established the rules for all the country performers who followed him and, in the process, much of popular music. Hank wrote a body of songs that became popular classics, and his direct, emotional lyrics and vocals became the standard for most popular performers. He lived a life as troubled and reckless as that depicted in his songs. (Continue Reading…)

  1. Honky Tonkin' 2:43
  2. Hey Good Lookin' 1:59
  3. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry 3:00
  4. Jambalaya on the Bayou 2:55
  5. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive 2:29

The Encyclopedia of Alabama does a nice job of pinpointing Williams’ importance:

Few performers in the history of country music can compare with Hank Williams Sr. (1923-1953) in terms of importance and influence. A key figure in the development of modern country music, Williams personified the musical genre’s shift from a regional, rural phenomenon to nationwide, urban acceptance in the late 1940s. Revered by fans drawn to the sincerity of his songs and his singing, and glorified by an industry that once ostracized him, Hank Williams, during his brief 29 years, was instrumental in turning “hillbilly” music into “country” music.

Hiram (Hank) Williams was born on September 17, 1923, near Mount Olive in Butler County, Alabama, to Lon Williams, a locomotive engineer, and Lillie Williams, a church organist. The couple separated early in Hank’s life, and he was raised primarily by his mother during his formative years. Williams spent most of his childhood in Georgiana and Greenville, Alabama, and early on became enthralled with music, playing harmonica, learning the organ from his mother, and acquiring his first guitar around the time he was eight years old….) (Continue Reading…)

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