Just say "Hank, and longtime country music fans will smile. They'll know you're talking about the brilliant, tragic Hank Williams, who died in the back seat of his car from a lethal combo of pain pills and alcohol while being driven to a gig in Canton, Ohio on New Year's Day 1953 at the age of 29. Yet he wrote the most enduring songs of almost any American songwriter, songs that have been recorded thousands of times by artists of all genres. His forte was pain: unadulterated physical and mental anguish, of which he suffered mightily.
Bear Family Productions out of Germany has now released an album of 26 Hank songs by artists from Sun Records in Memphis. No Elvis, but you get Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, regional rockabilly ace Warren Smith, whose "Dear John" carries more than a hint of desperation, Sonny Burgess (-My Bucket's Got A Hole In Ir), and more on such classic fare as "Hey Good Looking," "Cold Cold Heart,""Your Cheating Heart,""Jambalaya," -You Win Again," "I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow," There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight," and "I Saw The Light: As Kris Kristofferson wrote and sang, "if you don't like Hank Williams, you can kiss my ass: —Greenblatt