Hank Williams:Your Cheatin' Heart Will Tell On You
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.
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.
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.
"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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