10 Questions for the ‘Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams’

September 26, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Causes  //  48 Comments

Next Tuesday, the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, a project pairing Bob Dylan and a list of other popular artists together with unfinished Hank Williams songs, will be released to the public. The project has raised grave concerns in certain circles of country music from people questioning the ethics of taking a dead man’s songs and finishing them, especially when the dead man carries the songwriting and historical weight of Hank Williams. An organization called Stop The Desecration of Hank Williams Songs is planning protests at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 1st, and again on the release date of Oct. 4th.

What has baffled me from the beginning is with the anticipated controversy this project would stir, why information about its workings and origins have been so difficult to obtain. It was made even worse by an article in The Morton Report, which included easily refutable information.

Saving Country Music has submitted numerous emails, made phone calls, and personally visited the Country Music Hall of Fame trying to get more information about the Lost Notebooks to no avail. The Hall is a partner in the project, as it is being released in conjunction with their ‘Family Tradition: The Williams Family Legacy’ exhibit. However The Hall is not the originator of the project, and neither is Bob Dylan. The one thing we have received more clarity on since the formal announcement of the album release is the chain of custody of the songs. The idea for the Lost Notebooks project and many of the decisions made for it were done by the owners of the songs, music publisher Sony ATV, who ferried these songs through numerous changes and adventures, from the original owners, Hank Sr.’s publisher Acuff-Rose.

Hank Williams briefcase at display in the Country Music Hall of Fame, where some of the 'Lost Notebooks' were found.

Another entity that has been spared a lot of the controversy, but certainly had a part in the project is Hank Sr.’s estate. We do finally know that the estate endorsed the idea at some point, because Hank Williams Jr. appears in the EPK for the album (see bottom of article). As Hank’s grandson Hank3, who was not asked to participate in the project, said in a recent Saving Country Music interview:

The fans are very upset, and I guess I’ll just let them do my speaking for me. Because I can’t go and say something against Bob Dylan. That’s just not right man. I’d say maybe they need to scope out Hank Jr. a little more…

Something else we’ve learned from a recent New York Times article on the project is that both Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young were approached to be a part of it, and declined. We still do not know what happened to a Willie Nelson song that was part of the project, that Jack White’s spoke about when we very first heard about the Lost Notebooks back in 2007. It also states in the NY Times that Dylan initially called the task “too mighty.” And one of the biggest questions that remains is what happened between the recording of these songs in 2007, and their release in late 2011. That significant hole in the timeline leaves a lot to the imagination of why it took 4 years for the Lost Notebooks to see the light of day.

Completely putting aside the ethics questions for the project itself, I have drafted a list of 10 simple questions about the specifics of the Lost Notebooks that I think country music consumers have a right to be answered before they decide to purchase it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

  1. A story published by The Morton Report on August 4th asserts that the idea for the Lost Notebooks project was hatched in March of 2008, months after we know many of the songs for the project were already recorded. When, generally or specifically, in years or months or days, was it decided that the Lost Notebooks project would move ahead, and with Bob Dylan?
  2. Was the Lost Notebooks project always meant to be in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame’s ‘Family Tradition’ exhibit?
  3. If the Lost Notebooks project was meant to be released in conjunction with the ‘Family Tradition’ exhibit, either initially or eventually, then why is it not being released until over 1 1/2 years after the exhibit was initially scheduled to end in December of 2009? Why are the songs being released so long after being recorded?
  4. Were there any lawsuits brought against any entity involved in the Lost Notebooks project? And if so, for what?
  5. When and/or how was the Hank Williams estate involved in the project?
  6. Why were neither Hank Williams Jr. or Hank Williams III involved in the recording of the project? Was Hank Jr. asked to contribute to a song?
  7. Willie Nelson was initially named as contributing a song to the project by Jack White in late 2007. What happened to Willie Nelson’s contribution?
  8. How many, in total, unfinished Hank Williams songs are there, from how many different primary sources?
  9. Since there are more unfinished songs than are included in this project, are there plans to do more volumes?
  10. The liner notes for the Lost Notebooks project state that two of the four lost notebooks were taken from a locked vault. They state: “A police investigation was launched, and ultimately Sony regained possession of the notebooks and the handwritten songs.” But in March of 2007, a judge dropped all charges against Stephen M. Shutts and Francine Boykin for theft of the songs. How then were the two notebooks re-obtained by Sony ATV?

48 Comments to “10 Questions for the ‘Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams’”

  • we dont they just print the notebooks and make money that way. Then anybody could play or make those songs

    • absolutely exactly what I wanted to put out there Id like the opportunity to see just exactly what tthese “songwriters” were handed. Someone get them in a book!!!!

  • I have mixed feeling on the issue. I want to buy the album just because its Hank Williams Lyrics. Hank Sr. is the best thing that has ever happened to music. notice my name on this site is out of respect for the guy. I want to hear the lyrics he wrote. im not sure I want to hear other artist singing them tho. I think it would have been nice if Hank 3 would have done the whole album. It sure would be nice to get a country album from him again. then again, im not sure if im ready to hear “trooper” drown out the lyrics of the greatest writer of all time.

    • From my understanding, there’s a good chance Hank3 would have declined the offer anyway, just like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen did.

  • Good question.. “Why were neither Hank Williams Jr. or Hank Williams III involved in the recording of the project? Was Hank Jr. asked to contribute to a song?

  • From what I hear, I really like Jack White and Alan Jackson’s songs, but I’m not so sure about Jakob Dylan’s.

  • From the snippets I’ve heard on amazon, I think the Alan Jackson song is my favorite followed by Norah Jones.

  • There will never be another HANK WILLIAMS friends. I dont mind folks covering his songs. What bothers me is that the artists on this album were asked to complete unfinished songs. In the video above Holly Williams said it was like being handed half of a Picaso painting. If you finish that painting, its still only half a Picaso. Don Helms, (Hank Sr. steel player) said that Hank Sr, only wanted to be a successful songwriter. Thats it. I loved the album “Ol Waylon sings Ol’ Hank” Hank’s songs have a way of speaking to me and to everyone that listens to them. I think he took pride in the message that he was sending through his songs. These guys may see that message in these unfinished songs but i dont think they can relate them to me the way Hank can. They shouldnt mess with history. Its like when Marty Mcfly is sitting in the car with his mom, at the dance. what if Marty had’nt stoped his mom and they made a baby. Thats what these songs are like, Marty Mcfly’s Brother/Son.

    • That same argument, “leaving history alone”, could be applied to remastering old recordings. Though I tend to agree with you, and think respect should be paid where it’s due, it could very well be the case that Hank’s number-one priority was getting those songs to his listeners. If that was the case, pretty kickass that they finally did some 60 years later.

      • When you remaster originals, the originals still exsist. They should include lyrics to the tracks with the cd. They should put the contributors lyrics in black and Hank’s Lyrics in red. Cause lets face it, He is the Jesus Christ of music.

        • Amen, Brother!!!

        • Aye, and Hank’s original notebook still exists. You feel the same about Tee-Tot’s songs?

  • Levon’s gonna blow everybody away like he always does.

    I’m with Waymore: I’ve got mixed feelings on the issue as well. Hank has always been my favorite songwriter, and though I’ve got quite a few favorites, he’s the Untouchable. My initial thoughts were, if somebody approached me with an offer to work on a project like this, there’s just no way. The intimidation…man. But then watching the EPK, Alan Jackson said “How could you turn down a chance to write with Hank Williams?” Though it’s not a co-written project, you see the point.

    I definitely feel like these “lost works” should be treated with the utmost respect and care. However, with the snippets I heard, it seems like that was what was done. Hell, Jack White was damn near mimicking Hank.

    Yes, Jr. and III aren’t on the record (although Jr’s involvement in the EPK seems to point to his viewpoint), but Holly is. I’ll take III to Holly any day, but let’s not act like they just ignored the Williams clan.

    I guess my thoughts can be summed up like this: if some forgotten songs of Hank’s are out there, I’d sure like to hear em. And if anybody’s gonna record em, I’m glad it’s this lot (I could be pushed into giving Jakob Dylan/Alan Jackon a bye. Not sure what Jackson’s actually written).

    Lastly, I’ve not seen it asked yet, but what would Hank want?

    • Hank loved to hear other people sing his songs. As I said before he only wanted to be a successfull songwriter. He would go up to a juke box and play his songs that others had covered. The Issue here is that they are finishing his songs. The only song to my knowlege that was a succuss that Hank wrote but never sang was “Goin’ Steady- Faron Young”. I heard that song and i was drawn to it. I kept listening to it over and over. There was just somthing about that song man. Then i read “Three Generations of Hank” and found out that Hank Sr. wrote it and supposidly gave the song to Faron for his then girlfriend Billie Jean, who became Hanks second wife. The Question of What would Hank want is the reason for the out cry. its being asked without asking.

    • Not involving Hank Jr and Shelton seems like a glaring oversight or perhaps using Holly was a sidetrack tactic? Either way, I feel like this is done in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, and with the wrong motivation. They won’t reinstate Hank into the Opry AND it’s ok to do what you will with his personal property? I’m not buyin’ it.

      • “well” put ;)

  • Apparently no one knows how to read. Bocephus IS on the album, he sings on Holly’s track as stated in the NY Times article from a few days ago.

    I don’t see why anyone could possible whine about this. Yes Hank Williams is without a doubt the greatest thing to happen to country music and is truly the benchmark. No one has or ever will come close. But come on this in no way could possibly hurt his legacy in any way. It’s like the whole Opry thing. Who cares? This is 2011 the Opry don’t mean a damn thing. He’s dead. No changing that. His legacy, his body of work isn’t going to vanish because of one album. Worst thing that could happen it’s not very good and everyone forgets about it. Best case scenario country music gains some more great Hank tunes 50 years after he kicked the bucket. Where’s the downside? People act like Music Row hired Kenney Chesney to go back in time to re-write I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You) into I Can’t Help It (If You Think My Tractor Is Sexy). There’s NOTHING to loose from this project.

    The one thing I hope they do with this that they probably won’t is in the linear notes where the lyrics are have the original Hank lyrics in a different color from whatevers been added. Just so we all know what came from His pen as apposed to Sheryl Crow’s.

    • Even though I’m legally illiterate, somehow I’ve figured out how to keep this website going for almost 4 years! Hooked on phonics worked for me!

      C’mon Uncle, there’s a big difference from taking one of these songs and fleshing it out by yourself, and offering up and overdubbed singalong. That is what is meant by asking why Jr. wasn’t a part of it. And for all we know, he was asked, and declined. That’s my beef. We can go back and forth about the ethics, but how about telling us why the songs sat on a shelf for four years, or where Willie Nelson’s song is? Did Willie Nelson pull the song because he had an ethical issue with the project? Did the Hank Williams estate take Sony ATV to court for partial rights, or to block the project because of ethical concerns?

      • I don’t understand what’s not ethical about this. They’re not claiming these songs as their own like Monroe did with I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome. Those involved with the project are up front about what it is. I don’t see anything wrong with that they’re doing. You have a group of professional musicians who want to pay respect to Hank Williams by helping his unheard songs get heard. He wrote songs for other people to hear them. They are getting them out there for people to hear. Would I have asked a whole different group of people to do this? Yes I would’ve but I’m not the person in charge. I wouldn’t have asked any of the people on the album except Dylan, Hag, and Levon. But hey at least when get to hear the songs. Hank will always be my favorite singer and songwriter. If there’s an opportunity to hear more material I’ll take it. I don’t know why Willie pulled out maybe he didn’t feel like it was good enough maybe he felt uncomfortable. I don’t know. But I don’t really care. Sure I’d a preferred Neil Young, maybe Petty, Waits, or Earle or to be involved or anyone with some song writing chops but they aren’t apart of this so oh well.

        Let me ask you this what if the next great Hank tune is in there would you prefer it to to get released? Sure maybe it’s not Hank’s melody but I know I’d still like to hear the song. From the Times article some of the people involved made it sound like some of the songs lyrically were just about if not fully complete.

        • Mary,

          Listen. I purposely wrote this article not remarking at all about the ethical issue of finishing a dead man’s songs except in passing to set context. I did that because without question, the morality or lack thereof is in the eye of the beholder. In my OPINION, it is of questionable morality to finish a dead man’s songs, though I wouldn’t go as far as others to say this is slander or an atrocity or something. Furthermore, I can understand others that may have the opinion that it is just fine, or is even a good thing. Though I may not agree with that, I can understand it.

          What I did in this article instead is set out all the questions that still abound on how this project came about and was completed and released, which I haven’t seen you remark on yet. Why, when these songs were recorded in 2007 and were meant to be released in conjunction with the opening of the Hall of Fame exhibit in March 2008, did it take four years to release them, and almost two years after the exhibit was originally planned to be shut down? There may be a perfectly legitimate answer, but when you have a project that you can easily predict is going to be a hot button issue with some folks, and then you purposely leave a four year gap out of the timeline for the project, you leave it to the imagination of what happened. And then when they avoid the question, and then put out more misinformation like they did in The Morton Report, it looks like they’re purposely trying to hide something. For argument’s sake, I will give you that the project idea itself is completely ethical with no issues. But if it took four years to release because a court found Sony ATV did not have the proper rights to the songs, and the Williams Family trust was not given proper say so, and Willie Nelson pulled his song because the thing became a shit storm with questionable business ethics, then as a consumer, I have the right to know that.

          • Well said and well thought out Triggerman. If Uncle Mary thinks it’s ok to release them, then maybe Uncle Mary wouldn’t mind someone coming into his/her home, taking something from him and then profiting from it without even asking Him/Her if they don’t mind. Some difference. Even IF Shelton would have turned it down, the chance to do so wasn’t even offered.

    • if you cant tell where Hank left off and the opportunistic glory seeker jumped on then why not just enjoy the music . . ?

  • Frankly, folks, how is this any different than Three Hanks or the video for Tear in my Beer with Jr.?

    • And I’m saying that in a good way. I liked both. It’s a shame Hank never got to record these songs, a damn shame, but this might be the next best thing.

      Lastly, if I wrote a good song and didn’t live to record it, I’d be smiling up from hell to see people comin together to get that music out. Nobody’s calling it a Hank Williams record. I don’t see how they’re defacin’ name. If the record were to suck, everybody would say so, and nobody would blame Hank for it. As Uncle Mary said, there’s nothing to lose.

    • It’s completely different because the songs are unfinished, so there’s no context.

      And both Three Hanks and the “Tear In My Beer” mashup were awful.

      • Yeah 100% different. Tear In My Beer was already a complete song with melody and was recorded by Hank and Big Bill Lister. It’s not like Jr. was adding versus. At least I don’t think he did I’ve only heard that mash up thing once and thought it was terrible. 3 Hanks also were complete recorded fully written songs. No one was adding their own ideas. But these songs aren’t classic Hank tunes they’re new to us so I still don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like they’re re-writing I’m So Lonesome or May You Never Be Alone. As long as the original lyrics are somehow separated from any alterations just so you could so Hank’s untouched ideas could be seen I don’t see what the big deal is. Now if there’s some great verse that Hank wrote that Vince Gill is claiming to write now that would be unethical.

      • I’m not sure I agree, Trigger. Some people are saying this is “messing with history”. How is Jr.’s Tear in my Beer video somehow “messing with history” less than this current project? It’s injecting images of him into a situation he wasn’t in. I’d argue that it’s worse.

        I’ll agree with all of em bein awful, except the version of I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive. Kinda dug that one.

        I’m holding to my original point. I think the people in this project are (or are trying to) honoring Hank, and if it sucks, you and I both know it won’t reflect poorly on Hank. They’ve picked up his notebook and finished unfinished songs, and they’re making no claim to the contrary. I do agree that it’d be killer to have the liner notes differentiate between Hank’s contributions and the others, but I wouldn’t count on it.

        I dunno. Hank not being in the Opry is a sin. This doesn’t seem to be.

        • The Opry issue and the Unfinished Songs issue are so completely different, and it’s not fair to try and merge the two.

          I never said that if this was a bad album it would reflect negatively on Hank, and I haven’t seen anywhere else where this has been asserted. You and and Uncle Mary are right, none of this is going to effect the Hank Williams legacy. The issue is completely irrelevant to Hank’s legacy. It’s about art, and how to handle it. Like Hillary Williams said, it’s like finishing a Picasso. Nobody would suggest taking a paintbrush to a Picasso, right? So why is it OK in music? That’s the question. We can disagree about the answer, but I think it is a fair question to ask, and is only added to by the curious nature of how the idea was implemented. And if the questions about the project itself went away, many of the ethical questions might too. And if they are ignored, or exacerbated as they’ve been, the ethical questions grow.

          • They are absolutely fair questions to ask, and as an artist, I have a vested interest in them being asked. I’m not attacking your questions, nor am I attacking anything. Instead, I’m pointing out another point of view on the issue.

            I don’t see how I attempted to merge the two issues of Reinstating Hank and this current project. Quite the opposite, in fact. I pointed out the difference in the two. “Hank not being in the Opry is a sin. This doesn’t seem to be.” Some of the statements made in the comments section make it out to be some sort of a sin, this project, and I’m politely disagreeing. And I’m only focusing on the general issue of “should this be done?”, as opposed to why was it shelved X years, why is Willie no longer involved, etc. I’d love to know the answers myself, and I’m sure they all point to shady record labels. But I digress.

            I can somewhat see the Picasso analogy, but let’s be frank: if these people were physically taking this notebook of Hank’s and adding to/taking away from it, the people would be considerably more outraged. I think a more proper analogy would be an artist scanning a Picasso painting, then adding to it digitally. The original, whether finished or unfinished, still exists in its original state (we hope, we presume).

            This is obviously a sticky debate, and that’s hopeful in terms of music business integrity regarding us, the fans. The politics and behind-the-scenes actions taken in this project are of questionable ethics, I have no doubt. However, I’ve little doubt that the artists involved had any intent other than to honor Hank and be a part of something good. (We hope, we presume).


          • The merging comment was meant more for Uncle Mary. I am glad that there is a spirited debate about this, and that it is being carried out by artists. If this type of debate had been carried out at Sony ATV, this project probably would have been approached a lot differently, and some of the controversy averted. I always say the best thing that happens on this site happens in the comment section, and this article did not disappoint.

  • The reason this is important is this reflects how he is to be remembered. The Opry may not mean a thing to you but it does when you tell the history of country music. The fact that his name will not be included when he most defiantly influenced the Opry is a sin. It is up to us to preserve history correctly. I agree that there are probably better things to complain about but this is close to my heart.

    • Im with you on this BUT at this point Hanks probably ashamed and confused by the Nashville workings and products so hed probably not want association with it anyway

  • If Hank Jr. is not involved in some way I don’t think he would have appeared in that video. From what I saw & heard on the video I think everyone aproched the project with respect. I may hate it after I hear the whole thing, but I feel I must wait to judge it till I’ve heard it. That means I must buy it.

  • Thanks for this article. I found out about it on Facebook. It can’t be but I think I have seen the cd already a few weeks ago in a record store in Amsterdam, that is not possible if the release date would be October 4th…hm I am almost sure I have seen it and hold it in my hands, I put it back because I already heard the news about this, and want to wait till I know more, Now I do know more, and I still don’t know buy it or not…I wrote the CMHOF an email with the question why Hank III wasn’t asked, I guess they will come with an answer, since there are many questions about this project, I can’t wait to hear more about it. Are they talking about the songs that are in the museum, the ones that were behind glass, why would they wait so long with the idea to finish the unfinished songs…

    • There is a good chance it is already released in Europe. Many times albums are released in the EU before the US. Somebody was just telling me they bought the new Dale Watson last week that not available here till next week. They also JUST released the “Hank Williams: The Legend Begins” album, so you might have seen that as well.

  • I think there’s unanswered questions because it’s shrouded in shadyness and the truth always comes to light in the end.

  • My personal opinion for what it is worth; I have followed this for some time. I am one of the many who has emailed, called and wrote the CMHoF and Sony. My concerns have fallen on deaf ears. It appears that the large corporations will win this battle. This is what they think country music fans want. In fact, there are a large group of us that do not follow what music executives on the row consider country music.
    Most people would not dare finish an incomplete master piece. An unfinished Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt or Picasso. It is highly probable that all of these masters left behind unfinished works of art. Finishing these partial works would be arrogant, disrespectful and brazen. The art community would most certainly be outraged. Why do these same principals not apply to the music industry? If an artist dare finish a painting of the above mentioned masters, the art community would balk. It would not be accepted and would never make it to publication or show. Why are fans of music not screaming out and why is no one listening to those that are? My opinion is MONEY.
    The ethics of this project has always been on the front burner. Many questions of legality and ethics have always surfaced to the top. Were the notebooks claimed legally? How did Sony gain control of the songs that will be released? I have read that some notebooks were stolen and then deemed Sony’s property. I believe there are some hard line questions that Sony must answer before this album makes them one penny. The ownership of these bodies of art are questionable to say the least.
    On another level, there is the issue of the estate of Hank Williams Sr. Who are the heirs. Legally, I have read that it is Hank Williams Jr. and his daughter Jett Williams. There are concerns that the family was not consulted or asked to contribute. I have read and watched many interviews with Hank Williams 3 (Hank 3) Hank Williams Sr. grandson regarding this project. From the interviews, I gather that if offered, Hank 3 may turn down the opportunity. He has eluded that finishing a song is strange. However, this does not condone the fact that he was not asked to perform or contribute to the album.
    I did have the honor of viewing a sample of the lost notebooks at the Country Music Hall of Fame some time ago. It was a very moving experience for me. The written word is powerful in and of itself, finished or unfinished. Hank Williams Sr. had a way with words and music that tug at your very core. I have no desire to hear how Sheryl Crow or Alan Jackson interpret a dead man’s words or finish what Hank Sr. started. Is it just another notch in their belt? Another collaborative project with the prestige of having Hank Williams Sr. as a co-writer? That does not sit well with me. How can anyone finish a dead man’s song?
    My personal opinion is that the notebooks should be rightfully returned to the family of Hank Williams Sr. This would include Jett Williams and Hank 3 who both have been strangely absent from this project.
    In summary, there are several issues that need to be resolved prior to the release of this album. 1. Is the ownership of the unfinished songs legal and is the procurement of these notebooks legitimate? Were the notebooks stolen? If they were stolen, the items should be immediately returned to the family.
    2. Why are certain members of the Williams family absent from this project? Why have Jett and Hank 3 not been approached or offered contribution to the album?
    3. How can any person, artist, singer or writer finish a dead man’s thoughts? How can anyone co-write a song with a man that has been dead 58 years?
    I have asked these questions of Sony, the CMHoF and others with no real answers.
    I will not purchase this or support this project. Hank Williams Sr. died 58 years ago. With him, he took his words, thoughts and life. He left us his wonderful music and legacy. He changed country music. Real country music. His words are very powerful, enlightening, and creative. They should not be watered down by others. If you really care enough about his legacy or what he left behind, view the works as they stand. There is no reason to have bubble gum pop stars finish his writing.

    • I would think that Sony would not be so careless as to let stolen material be published knowing they would be sued. Rather, Sony more than likely sold them to Bob Dylan, who I’m sure paid a hefty price so that he would have the rights to them. Remember Micheal Jackson outbid Paul McCartney for his own publishing rights. You are dead on in my opinion Rebel Belle. I’m sure it comes down to money as Sony is banking on profiting in more than one way. So, is it business as usual for Music Row? Looks that way.

    • Reading my mind Belle !!! you’re reading my mind

  • I totally get the ethical issues and all, but chances are very good that there will be a few really good tunes arise from this project and that’ll be a few more than we had before… In a world filled with garbage music I just can’t bring myself to get upset by this.

    • The world is filled with garbage music. This is not the answer. The country music scene is over populated with the bubble gum pop that music row and other music corporations want you as the listener to hear. I have found this to be very true if you are listening to the so called music they are pumping through the radio waves. Do yourself a favor. Turn it off. There are wonderful artists making the greatest music. They are proud to be taking all the glitz and glam bubble gum BS out of what is popular and they are taking country music back from the money grubbing execs. These men and women are working hard. Touring hard. Living and creating music on their terms. There is a price. No big paycheck at the end of the day. As a fan, I purchase music, t shirts, any merch I can offord from them. In hopes they can make a bit of cash. There is garbage music out there. If you bypass what music row wants you to hear you will be amazed. You may even wonder, as I do, why are large music corporations so afraid to give these guys a chance and why are they dead set on cramming watered down pop with an acoustic down our throats. I think they are scared. This music is raw emotion. Feeling. Real life. The money makers and holders of the world are happy to try and keep us content with no intellect. No question of authority. Poor. Happy. There is a reason. It is the dumbing down of the masses. Don’t bite. Think. Question. Go past the surface and see what’s really out there. You won’t be sorry. Best wishes and good will.

  • Personally I just want to hear Hank Williams’ lyrics, I don’t really have an opinion on other people finishing them. If anything I think the lyrics won’t mesh well together, because no one can touch Sr’s lyrical genius. What they should do in my opinion is publish the notebooks. I know I’d be chomping at the bit to get my hands on Hank’s ideas. I mean they’ve done it with much less artistic people like Kurt Cobain and Eminem (nothing against either, they’re just not as talented as Hank Sr. lol). But I think that would allow people who don’t support this project to still be able to at least read what Hank wrote and not have to listen to other people singing it.

    • I agree. I was fortunate enough to view some of the unfinished songs at the country music hall of fame. The written word is very powerful and moving. I stood in awe. Actually seeing the paper he wrote on and viewing his leather case was an experience I will never forget. I also saw many other things in this exhibit as well. I stood at his guitar for a very long time. Examining all the marks from his pick. I could have looked at it for days. Words truly do not describe the emotion. Maybe that is why I feel so strongly about someone else finishing his work. It is fantastic and perfect as it stands. I will note that in an interview I read recently with Hank 3, the reporter had him dress up in some of Hank Sr.’s suits. He was asked how he felt. To my recollection, he said that it would mean more to him if he could play one of his grand-dad’s guitars. I thought that was a bit sad. It seems that you should have access to your families items even if only for a brief moment to hold them. Just a thought.

  • You know, to assume what Hank Williams would think or want or say seems, at the best, impossible, and at the worst presumptuous. To assume why some people finished the project and others did not (and bestowing some ethical decision where there is NO such evidence) is just not right. You don’t know why some people withdrew and why there was a delay in the project. If you don’t want to buy the album, don’t. But if the goal is to have Hank Williams’ music live on, this seems to be a good way to have that happen. Having these works see the light of day, and be recorded by artists who may attract a new audience seems like a win-win. Hank Williams becomes known to a whole new generation. If you’ve listened to any of the interviews or read any of them, every artist has nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Williams. This is a way to honor him and bring some of his lyrics to life. If it’s not your cup of tea, fine. But don’t assume that you can speak for him or discern his intention. Long live Hank Williams, and bravo to this project for reintroducing the great music and helping the legend and the music live on.

    • At no point, anywhere in this article, do I find any mention or inference that I know what Hank Williams would think about this project. Nor do I see anywhere where the intentions of the contributing artists are questioned. In fact, this comment seems to be based on the assumptions itself, of an argument that is not being made at all, while the actual points of the argument, which have been laid out very clearly, are being ignored. So unless this comment is pointed towards other commenters, though honestly I am not seeing very many people at all making the point that they know what Hank Williams would think, then it is being made with the utmost of presumption.

    • So at best it’s impossible to think that Hank Williams would be pleased with this release and at worst presumptious to think that he would be happy it was done by those involved. I think you’re on to something Tom.

  • my comments are, in fact, based on claims that others made about the compilation. I’m sorry for not being specific and directing them to the specific people. I’ve never posted on this site so didn’t know how to address those people specifically other than naming them, and that just never goes over well. I don’t mean to confront, I’m just trying to offer a perspective that I don’t see here. My overall point, about widening the appeal and audience for HW’s music, seems valid and perhaps not an issue that most posters or the original post considered.

  • First, Triggerman, you are an inspiration to music bloggers the world over, even if you do have a bad attitude! Thanks for all the work on this site. As far as this release is concerned, I recall that, as a Yankee of parents who hated country music, my first encounter with Hank Sr. was the post-death “sweetened with strings” on a vinyl comp I bought at a Goodwill – (I looked it up out of curiosity!)

    Hank’s been through the music machine before, and survived, I guess! My point is that even a bad introduction is still an introduction. This Frankenstein’s monster will be some dumb kid’s first foray into Hank Williams’ artistry, and for every 100 who hear one of these songs, one of those listeners will follow their instincts to become a fan of “real” country music.

    That said, this brings to mind the times this was done right: Mermaid Ave., where Nora Guthrie rode shotgun on Billy Bragg and Wilco’s efforts and Rick Rubin and John Carter Cash’s work on Johnny Cash’s posthumous releases, as well as when I think it was done wrong, such as Jeff Lynne’s crazy overproduction on Roy Orbison’s posthumous release, King of Hearts.

    This thing seems to be an odd mix of good artists with good intentions contributing to a project developed in a shadowy way by publishing executives who probably have the usual less-than-honorable, but all too common intention of squeezing as much money from whatever intellectual property their corporate conglomerate happens to own.

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