Nancy Hardin profile image

Hank Williams:Your Cheatin' Heart Will Tell On You

Hank Williams

Source: Photo Courtesy Amazon

Hank Williams Was One Of Us

In 1952, I lived in Kentucky and all my friends and I haunted our radios just hoping to hear our idol, country music star Hank Williams' records. He was just the best there was and we all loved him. When "Your Cheatin' Heart" came out in 1953, it hit #1 on the country charts and stayed there for weeks.

"When Tears Come Down Like Fallin' Rain..."

That's a line from "Your Cheatin' Heart," and we knew how heartbreak felt, just by listening to Hank's songs. Every song was meant for us, his people, and we all knew we shared the same kind of country way of life with him. He was one of us.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

We Knew The Feeling

When we heard "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," we knew exactly what that lonesomeness felt like. When he sang "Hey, Goodlookin'," we just knew he was talking to us. "Lovesick Blues" became the exact way we felt about him.

Your Cheatin' Heart

Our Loss, Our Grief

Born in Mount Olive, Alabama, his Momma practically raised him alone from a young age, as his father began years of hospitalization at a VA hospital from injuries suffered during WW1. Hank, (born Hiram,) also had health problems, having been born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column. He would suffer from back pain all his life, resulting in an abuse of alcohol and prescription painkillers.

What we didn't know when "Your Cheatin' Heart," hit the airwaves, was that Hank Williams was already dead. He passed away on January 1, 1953, in the back seat of a car driven by a hired driver. The autopsy concluded that he died from a heart attack, but it was most probably brought on by his substance abuse. He was only 29 years old when he left us.

This is a line from "Your Cheatin' Heart," that goes on to say"You'll toss around and call my name," and many of us did after we found out about his death. We truly grieved because we all felt as though we knew him through his songs.

Did He See The Light?

"I Saw The Light"

"I Saw The Light," is a country gospel song Hank Williams used to close his shows. It expressed his hope for the Lord's forgiveness for his sins. It was not an immediate hit, but became one of his best loved songs. When he died, many folks pondered the question, "Did he see the light?" Ironically, his final recording was another fatalistic song he wrote, "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive."

Hear the man himself, the great sound and timber of his voice, even in those days of early recording techniques. These are some of his very best songs.

Things You Might Not Know

Hank Williams wrote many of his own songs, but never learned to read music.

He was taught to play guitar in his youth by Rufus Payne, a black street performer.

"Your Cheatin' Heart" has been "covered" by such recording artists as Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, LeeAnn Rimes, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline and many more.

"Your Cheatin' Heart" was also the title of a 1963 film starring George Hamilton.

 Last updated on September 18, 2014

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What are your thoughts on this country music star who left us too soon? 18 comments

Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 5 weeks ago from Toronto, Canada Level 7 Commenter

Nancy, looks good in it's new home - I'll share on the Country Music Review Facebook page again :)

ecogranny profile image

ecogranny 5 weeks ago from San Francisco Level 7 Commenter

Nancy, what a lovely tribute to a stellar performer whose songs thrilled and consoled many of us. I have loved his voice since I first heard it on the radio too many decades ago to count. His songs are at times haunting, almost always heartbreaking, and ever moving.

Thank you for a brief trot down memory lane. I can almost smell my boyfriend's cigarettes and the white leather seats of his GTO as we listened to Whippoorwill together one starry, crisp autumn night.

Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 8 months ago from Toronto, Canada Level 7 Commenter

Congratulations Nancy on receiving 'Review of the Day' !

RPWag profile image

RPWag 8 months ago

I am a Musician, and I do several of Hank's big hits, They go over big with my audiences everytime. I wanted to be able to talk a little bit about Hank them as I played and sang them, to give some background to the songs. Your article has been a big help, thanks

Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 8 months ago from Las Vegas, NV Hub Author

@Margaret Schindel: Thank you for your visit Margaret. I always try to impart some new information in each lens I write and from your comment it sounds like I succeeded! Thanks again!

Margaret Schindel profile image

Margaret Schindel 8 months ago from Massachusetts Level 6 Commenter

Nancy, congratulations on your terrific Review of the Day! I had no idea that Hank Williams was only 29 when he died, nor that he had serious health problems, was in constant pain, died because off drug and alcohol abuse to try to dull that pain, and never learned to read music. He certainly made his mark during his short time on this earth. Thank you for sharing such an informative, touching and compelling article, my friend!

DANCING COWGIRL profile image

DANCING COWGIRL 8 months ago from Texas Level 3 Commenter

Oh ya, now your talking. I grew up on Hank Williams and bet I can sing nearly every song.

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 8 months ago Level 4 Commenter

Lovely review. I did not realize that Hank Williams had died over prescription medicine abuse from his spina bifida. He was such a bright, if a shooting star. Congrats on being featured as review of the day! Bookmarked.

Craftymarie profile image

Craftymarie 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

It is sad that a talent like this was taken too soon with a young death but great that his songs live on. Great review, Nancy.

Pam Irie profile image

Pam Irie 8 months ago from Land of Aloha Level 4 Commenter

I did not know Hank Williams couldn't read music. There was always an album of his playing on the stereo in our home "back in the day". :)

DebMartin profile image

DebMartin 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

I have this CD and LOVE it. It's a gem. So is Hank.

OhMe profile image

OhMe 8 months ago from Pendleton, SC Level 6 Commenter

He was definitely the best and I sure enjoyed this review!

Merrci profile image

Merrci 8 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 7 Commenter

Wonderful review, Nancycarol! I didn't realize he had spin bifida or that he had died that young. Just enjoyed his music. Thanks for sharing this!

tonyleather 8 months ago

Great song by a legendary singer!

LisaDH profile image

LisaDH 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

Hank Williams was a legend. He died before I was born, but I still appreciate some of his classics. Great music is timeless.

David Stone1 profile image

David Stone1 8 months ago from New York City Level 7 Commenter

I grew up on C&W, my mother's favorite, and Hank Williams was the king. When she died, she still had her collection of old vinyl records, more than 50 years old.

Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 8 months ago from Toronto, Canada Level 7 Commenter

Nancy, another terrific review - you have a way of telling these music related stories so that it's easy to read, plus I usually learn something I didn't know about the this case I didn't know so many artists have covered the song, and that he couldn't read music - a fun read and educational too

Corrinna-Johnson profile image

Corrinna-Johnson 8 months ago from BC, Canada Level 3 Commenter

My dad is a huge fan of Hank Williams and I grew up listening to all his music, even though he passed away a couple of decades before I was born. Now that my dad is living with us, my kids even know who he is! Great review!

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