by Kevin Wilder
I’ve been taking my sweet time getting around to the last few books I’ve read. So once again, it’s time to play catch up. A few notes about this one have been sitting on my desktop for close to two weeks. It feels like Hank has been quietly reminding me not to forget about him.
I certainly enjoyed #38. I’ve always loved the man’s songs, and even visited his grave once on a trip through Montgomery to take photos. What makes Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams a winner might be the author’s genuine enthusiasm for the topic. He breathes new light into an old story, to tell us about the famous abusive alcoholic who predated rock and roll by nearly a decade. In ways HW built the rock legend archetype from the ground up, dabbling in affairs, bad marriages, and often being too intoxicated perform, if he showed up at all.
Little did I know before this book how autobiographical every song happened to be. With only “three chords and the truth,” Hank wrote songs with titles like “Why Don’t You Love Me (Like You Used To Do),” bringing country music into the forefront of popular culture. It’s also interesting how a black street performer taught him how to play the blues as a child. As the author notes, ”If (Hank) had a genius, it was simplicity.”
As an artist, Hank Williams made suffering enjoyable. Out of the 66 songs he recorded, he wrote 50 himself. He grew up fast, and died young (and as Minnie Pearl and June Carter both noted, they all figured it was coming any day). This one is fully recommendation to anyone mildly interest in the subject.