I don't care who thinks we're silly
You be daffy and I'll be dilly
We'll order two bowls of chili
Settin' the woods on fire
This album was assembled and released a couple years after Williams died too young in the back seat of a Cadillac. I couldn't find a US release date, other than "1955" (with two more songs), but our book lists a September, 1956 UK release date, so we're going with that release.
I'm not a country music fan, but I like Hank Williams and some of the other old-school country artists. Williams might not have invented western music, but he brought a new emotion and heart to the genre. This is back when there wasn't a lot of difference between country & western and folk. It's American roots music, and it lies at the bottom of nearly everything that came after in rock 'n' roll, whether it's Buddy Holly (and by extension, The Beatles), Bob Dylan, CCR, or the Eagles. Without Hank Williams, today's popular music, whether country, rock, or whatever else, would be a very different place.
This is a fine collection of eight Hank Williams classics. It might have been a mistake to follow "Your Cheatin' Heart" with the nearly identical "You Win Again," to open the album, but other than that, I have no complaints.
Every drawn-out word is a hillbilly cry, every bit as sad as Sinatra was in the wee small hours. Sinatra cried in a city bar, where Williams sat alone by the fire out on the ranch, but both lamented their plight. When Williams is cheerful, as in "Settin' The Woods On Fire," "Hey, Good Lookin'," or "Jambalaya" (which was apparently on the 1955 release but not on the only one we could find, and which is very much missed on this record), the joy fills his voice just like the cries of the sad stuff.
Bottom line for me is, whether you like country music or not, no American popular music education is complete without a good strong dose of Hank Williams. This album is as good a place as any to start.
This isn't a style that I usually listen to on my own, but I enjoyed this memorial album. The tempo and guitar style to some of the songs aren't much different than the Chet Atkins album we reviewed before this, but with vocals and a band, it makes it different enough.
If you have this on as background music, you'll think it's all upbeat and cheesy fun country songs, but when you pay attention to the lyrics, you hear that Hank had his ups and downs in relationships:
If you missed me half as much as I miss you
You wouldn't stay away half as much as you do
I know that I would never be this blue
If you only loved me half as much as I love you