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“Iâm as respectful of the manâs work ethic as Iâm mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.“
This is the long and short of how Rodney Crowell feels about the job British actor Tom Hiddleston is doing to morph himself into Hank Williams for the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light based on Colin Escott’s biography. Rodney Crowell was hired on by the production company of the movie to be the Executive Music Producer and Tom Hiddleston’s personal voice coach for his Hank Williams transformation.
In a lengthy post on Rodney’s Facebook page from earlier this week, the country/Americana performer expounded about his experiences with Tom while in training for the part.
During the month of September 2014, our house in Tennessee became the base camp for Tom Hiddlestonâs steady transformation into Hank Williams. Iâd been hired by a film company—whose vision of shining a gritty light on the life and times of Hank Williams piqued my interest no end—to produce the music and assist their leading man in finding his way into the heart of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time.
The classically trained British actor arrived in Nashville on the fourth day of the month and the very next day climbed on a tour bus bound for Michigan and the Wheatland Music Festival, his traveling companions Claudia, myself, and a four-piece band consisting of Jerry Roe, Byron House, Pat Buchannan and Steve Fishell. Just minutes before taking part in an afternoon workshop with Sarah Jarosz, whose permission I had sought first, I asked Tom if heâd like to join us onstage and sing âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cry,â a Hank Williams song Iâd heard him practicing on the bus. I was surprised when he said yes and skillfully performed the tune before what must have been 1500 people. Later that night, with my band on the main stage, and with very little urging from me, he rendered a joyful version of âMove It On Over.â Afterward, brimming with delight, he admitted, rather boyishly, that heâd never in his life performed with a band and had loved it.
The pick to have the part of Hank Williams played by Hiddleston has been a controversial one in some sectors. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, has been a vocal opponent of the casting, saying that it would take an American to understand the unique the role of playing country music’s first superstar. Hank3 has also criticized the pick of Rodney Crowell as Hiddleston’s vocal coach. Hank3 told Saving Country Music, “It definitely puts Rodney Crowell in a strange position. Iâm definitely not wanting to be hard on him. But if if Rodney Crowell is the voice coach, it says a lot right there … No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but thereâs two Hank Williams walking this earth right now.”
When video surfaced of Hiddleston performing at the Wheatland Music Festival, the debate started anew about Hiddleston’s abilities to assume the role realistically and believably. Producers for the film have said that Hiddleston will be performing multiple Hank Williams songs live in the movie, and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It On Over,” and “Lovesick Blues” are the three songs that have come up multiple times as being potential movie cuts.
Rodney Crowell went on to speak specifically to Hiddleston’s dedication and work ethic for the role.
On a typical day in September, I watched him sit for a wardrobe fitting, read through four hours worth of key scenes with the director and leading lady, spend another two hours with a dialect coach, and then, in order to lose the weight needed to look Hank Williams gaunt on screen, run seven wicked miles over hilly Tennessee terrain. With those chores done, heâd then commit to six more hours of singing, over and over again, a very hard to master song like âLovesick Blues.â And then, when he finally unlocked the mystery of yodeling the blues, hillbilly style, and was treated to a playback of his performance responded by saying âI can do it better, let me go again.â Then came a late dinner, wolfed down before giving in to a few hours sleep. After nearly a month spent collaborating with this gifted artist, Iâm as respectful of the manâs work ethic as Iâm mystified by his transformational skills. Without a doubt, the filmmakers chose the right actor for the job.
I Saw The Light is set to begin filming in Louisiana in mid to late October, and the casting of local extras has begun. Elizabeth Olsen has also been selected to play the role of Audrey Williams, Hank’s wife.
The debate will likely rage over the pick of Tom Hiddleston to play Hank Williams well after the movie is shot and released, but Rodney Crowell makes it clear that he believes they found the right man.
Today would have been the 91st birthday of Hillbilly Shakespeare Hank Williams, and we get news that a new movie is in the works based around a novel written by alt-country pioneer Steve Earle called I’ll Never Get Out Of The World Alive. The movie will be stared in and produced by Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, most famous for playing Thor in recent comic book movies. Hemsworth has optioned the movie rights to Earle’s novel, and Benjamin Grayson wrote the script for the movie and will be directing it—his first time directing a film. Laura Bickford of films such as Traffic and Duplicity has also been brought on board as a producer. The movie will be an independent film.
Steve Earle’s I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive novel was released in May of 2011 by Houghton Mifflin. It is titled after a Hank Williams song that in an eerie twist of fate, was the last of Hank’s songs to be released as a single while he was still alive. The novel doesn’t involve Hank intimately, but follows the fictitious life of Toby âDocâ Ebersole who is defrocked after being Hank’s doctor at the time of Hank’s mysterious death on New Years Day, 1953 in the back of a black Cadillac. The story picks up ten years later when Ebersole is living in San Antonio, TX and is an unlicensed practitioner performing abortions and other illegal procedures to support his heroin addiction. Toby Ebersole is haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams from carrying around the guilt of killing country music’s first superstar.
No word on when production for the movie may start, or when it may be released. Hemsworth has a busy schedule coming up. He is currently filming the reboot of the Chevy Chase classic Vacation, and just wrapped up two more movies to be released in 2015: In the Heart of the Sea, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Hank Williams films have been all the rage lately, and so have recent actors in comic book novels starring in them. British actor Tom Hiddleston who plays the nemesis of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor character is set to star in a new biopic about Hank Williams called I Saw The Light that begins filming in Louisiana next month. Elizabeth Olsen, I Saw The Light‘s female lead playing opposite of Hiddleston as Hank’s wife Audrey, is also cast in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I Saw The Light has received criticism from Hank’s grandson Hank3 and others for casting a non American in the role. Another Hank Williams movie The Last Ride was released in 2013.
Steve Earle also released an album in 2011 called I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. No word if the music will find its way into the movie soundtrack.
The upcoming biopic on Hank Williams entitled I Saw The Light has its leading lady. The part of Audrey Williams—Hank’s first wife and one of the foremost influences on his music—will be played by Elizabeth Olsen, little sister of famous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and recent star of films such as Captain America:The Winter Soldier and Godzilla. She will play Audrey across from Tom Hiddleston, who is known for his own acting in comic books films as well as other roles. They will be directed by Marc Abraham, who also wrote the screenplay for the film based off of Colin Escott’s Hank Williams biography.
Like her sisters, Elizabeth Olsen began acting at a very young age. At 4-years-old she was appearing in the movies of her older twin sisters, but walked away from acting briefly after the controversy surrounding Mary-Kate’s eating disorder. Her role in the 2011 movie Martha Marcy May Marlene is given credit for starting her acting career in earnest, and Elizabeth has since starred in eleven other films, including another comic book movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron set to be released in 2015.
Audrey Williams, born Audry Mae Sheppard, was married to Hank Williams from December 15, 1944, until July 10, 1952. Hank Williams later remarried, but as a performer herself, an important player in the Hank Williams estate after Hank’s death, and the mother of Hank Williams Jr., Audrey’s influence on both the story of Hank Williams and country music as a whole looms large. Audrey played upright bass in Hank’s band upon occasion, and had aspirations of stepping out into her own spotlight. “Her duets with Hank were like an extension of their married life in that she fought him for dominance on every note,” says biographer Colin Escott. Audrey is buried beside Hank Williams in Montgomery, Alabama.
The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams has already stimulated some controversy. Hank3, the grandson of Hank Williams has criticized the casting, saying that it should be an American or a Southerner to play the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Video of Tom Hiddleston singing Hank Williams surfaced over the weekend from the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan.
The production for I Saw The Light is also gearing up for an open casting call for some of the movie’s smaller speaking roles and extras. The casting call will be held on September 14th from 11 AM to 4 PM at 6901 W. 70th Shreveport, LA 71129. They are also soliciting the public for classic cars to use in the film.
“Also we are looking for extras of all ages (mostly adults) and anyone who has any ‘western outfits’ should attend the open call wearing those outfits,” the casting call operated by Legacy Casting says. “We are also seeking period vehicles 1930-1950. It is not necessary to bring the vehicle, but please bring good photographs of the vehicles. Everyone should bring non-returnable current photos of themselves for us to keep.”
I Saw The Light will begin shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana in mid October. Rodney Crowell is the Executive Music Producer for the film.
Hank William III, or Hank3 as he goes by, has been causing quite a stir over the last few weeks from his vocal concern about his grandfather being portrayed by British actor Tom Hiddleston in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light. The 3rd generation performer has been posting his thoughts on Facebook, been quoted by TMZ, and has been leaving comments right here on Saving Country Music saying that an American, or a Southerner, or someone else besides Hiddleston would be a better fit for the role of Hank Williams. Coupled with Hank3′s hard-edged style, he’s come off as abrasive to some, while many Hank Williams fans agree with his sentiment and are concerned about the direction the biopic is taking.
When I spoke to Hank3 today for an extended period, I didn’t find a cocky, closed-minded individual suspicious of a foreign actor and who secretly wishes he would have been considered for the role (Hank3 does have some acting experience, and even his hardest detractors must admit he looks and sounds the part). What I found was a man seriously conflicted, being eaten up not just by the idea of Hiddleston playing his grandfather, but that the entire biopic project was commencing on an unsturdy foundation. He also feels bad for the position his criticism is putting Hiddleston and his vocal coach Rodney Crowell in.Â “For some reason it is deeply embedding in my skull and I can’t get it out,” he says. “Just the fact of why the hell is this bothering me right now because I’ve got a hell of a lot of other stuff on my plate right now.”
Hank3 is currently prepping to embark on a West Coast tour where he’ll be playing shows that could stretch to three or four hours, and as his own tour manager, he is busy rounding up crew and gear, and finalizing all preparations. Worrying about Tom Hiddleston’s Hank Williams role should be the last thing from his mind. But here he is amidst a public skirmish involving huge press outlets and international players.
For the first time since the issues with I Saw The Light arose, I talk to Hank3 in depth about the movie and his concerns, as well as about what fans can expect from his upcoming tour and if any new music is on the way.
You’ve been a vocal opponent of the choice of Tom Hiddleston to play your grandfather Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light. You’ve already spoken a lot on the subject publicly, but what did seeing the first videos of Tom Hiddleston perform your grandfather’s music tell you about Hiddleston’s ability to pull off the role genuinely?
Unfortunately the way they’re approaching it is doing it in the public eye, so that in itself doesn’t seem very smart. If he’s supposed to be working on his craft to really dial in this role, doing it in front of folks is probably not the best way to do it. And then, if you’re going to put it publicity out there and have him singing and then put a link to Hank Williams singing next to it? Yeah, that’s really bad. Unfortunately, they’re acting like he’s going to be singing a lot in the movie, and that in itself is a letdown. Almost everyone that I talk to hears no resemblance, and it’s alright if there’s no resemblance. Hopefully the acting will make up for it. But the main point that I will still stand by no matter what happens in the future, I still think for an Americana icon, an American needs to play that role. To have a good foundation, and to make the best of a movie, and to take it to the next level and make it feel as real as possible, yeah… My example is the Coal Miner’s Daughter movie. It’s a very well-made movie that people could identify with on many levels.
For some reason, this is really bothering me. I don’t know why. I don’t have anything to lose or gain from it. But for the approach that is happening with this movie is just not sitting right with me. And it’s not just me. There’s a lot of people I talk to out there that just don’t understand it. And this isn’t about Tom [Hiddleston]. This is about the choice. I’m not out to diss his acting or anything like that. I’m just going to shoot from the hip. I don’t think it’s a good pick, especially hearing what I did. Anyone can sing in a low register like that. I don’t hear any nasal twang to it. I honestly just want to see the best movie that can be made, because it’s been a while since they’ve made one that’s been good. Your Cheatin’ Heart had some moments, but honestly, Audrey [Hank's wife] killed that script, and took out most of the real things about it. I guess I’m so vocal about it because I care, and I want to see the best movie made. I try to let it get out of my head, and God only knows why this one is rubbing me raw, but it is.
Well this is supposed to be the definitive biopic, or at least that’s how they’re portraying it, based off of Colin Escott’s biography which is the definitive biography of Hank Williams. So this is the big one.
Yeah, I may have a shady reputation here and there and might say some things, but all in all I’m pretty humble about what I do, and I’m not out to put anybody down. But when it comes to something as important as this, I have to say some things. It goes from the street, all the way up to the corporate level in Nashville. There’s already a lot of people shaking their heads. And I know it just puts Tom [Hiddleston] in a bad situation.
To get into those areas that are really deep, you need to getting into the areas around here. Here in Tennessee, in Alabama, in Louisiana, to live it, eat it and breathe it. When Johnny Depp did Hunter S. Thompson, where was he? He was living in Hunter’s basement. No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but there’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now.
I know you have no direct say so in the Hank Williams estate; that’s handled by Jr. and Jett. But it doesn’t sound like they reached out to you at all to get consultation, or even to vet the populous to try and find the best person to play Hank Williams. You have may not wanted the role even if it was offered to you, but the resemblance is there both with your voice and your likeness. Why wouldn’t they reach out for a screen test? You’ve done some acting in the past. Did they even reach out just to say, “Hey, we know your passion for your grandfather, why don’t you come in and at least give us your advice or consultation?” None of that happen with you or your father [Hank Jr.]?
Yeah, there’s been nothing. And that could be because of politics, and because I don’t have that big time mover and shaker manager in my corner. But no one has approach me, and I’m a very easy to get to guy.
And unfortunately, the BBC, the Europeans, they all have a huge appreciation for Hank Williams. That’s not a question in my mind. There is a true love there. But for the role, and for the movie, it’s just doesn’t feel right. It’s going to be hard to look at for someone like me, or someone who is a die hard Hank Williams fan. It’s going to be a very big hurdle to overcome. I know Tom [Hiddleston] has fire in some of his roles, but if you really do your homework on Hank Williams, he was a very cocky individual who would stare you down almost like you were going to be getting into a fight. It’s an intensity that’s kind of different. There’s a lot of things in the nose structure and the jawline, just basic stuff. I’m not trying to gain the press, I’m just giving an opinion. And unfortunately, my opinion isn’t what they’re wanting to hear.
Hypothetically, let’s just say the filmmakers did reach out to you, either in the future or in the past to get your opinions, or to try out for the role. Would you have been receptive to those things, and would you be receptive to those things now?
I tell every director my weakness of what they have to work with, and what they have to pull out of me. I’ve been on a movie set, I’ve done it. People like Earl Brown have said to me, “Well, you can do it, you’ve got it.” It doesn’t matter if people are pitching TV shows at me or documentaries, or anything, I always tell them what I’m like as a person, and what to expect. And then as far as your job as a director, you’re going to have to heighten it to the next level to really get what you need out of me. I’m open, and I tell folks the pluses and the minuses, and I’m the first one to say I’m no super great actor, and I’m no super great singer. I always shoot straight. I do the best that I can, and some folks get it, and some folks don’t. But a lot of people have the potential for this role. It’s just getting the right foundation up under it.
The director is Marc Abraham, and he hasn’t done much directing. He’s mostly a producer; a behind-the-scenes type guy, and he’s done a lot of horror and action films. He’s a guy that definitely has a name in Hollywood, has made a lot of movies, and people know him. But this is only the second film that he’s directed.
As Jeff Bridges would say, a young director, sometimes they don’t know the rules to break. Every movie you make you learn something and it takes time to hone in on your craft. It doesn’t sound like a very seasoned guy for that role. I hate to look at anything just on paper, but if you’re looking at who the lead guy is, who the director is, yeah man, it’s kind of so so, for all that Hank Williams has done.
Some people are saying, “Well, you’re criticizing something that hasn’t even been made yet.” Any movie is going to necessitate the audience to suspend disbelief. But I guess the counterpoint to that would be to speak now or forever hold your peace, because as soon as this movie production begins, people can chirp all they want, but it’s not necessarily going to change anything. What would you say to people who say you’re not even giving it a chance?
I just know that there’s some things there that you can’t teach, no matter how hard you try to polish it or morph it into something you want. And unfortunately, this movie is going in that direction. With this, it’s like, I already know. No matter how much you polish it, it’s not going to hit the potential that it could, just because of what they’re sticking with, or where they could take it. Just like a guitar player that might know a million and one notes and he’s a guitar whiz and all that. But he has no feel. And this is falling under that category. It’s just not going to have much feel, because Tom is already going to be worried about this role, he’s already getting flack over it. Many many people are just not impressed as far as the whole situation around it.
And it definitely puts Rodney Crowell in a strange position. I’m definitely not wanting to be hard on him. But if if Rodney Crowell is the voice coach, it says a lot right there too.
And for some reason it is deeply embedding in my skull and I can’t get it out. Just the fact of why the hell is this bothering me right now because I’ve got a hell of a lot of other stuff on my plate right now.
Well, it’s your grandfather. You’ve been doing this Reinstate Hank campaign for years. You’re one of the biggest champions in trying to preserve his legacy and pay it forward to a new generation. And this movie symbolizes such an amazing opportunity to do that. That’s the promise of the movie if they do it right, is it could have a huge impact on revitalizing the understanding of who Hank Williams was to the American culture and to the music culture of the world.
But I will say, with or without this movie, Hank Williams’ music is still going to do that. I had to bring that up earlier today. No matter, his music is going to be timeless, and movies come and go. At the end of the day, his music and what he did is going to outlast the movie, and be passed on for generations. That is why he is as special as he is.
You’re 41 years old now, which is hard to contemplate for your fans, but probably even harder for you because you’re still doing your punk and metal music, you’re still stretching out shows to four and five hours. Where do you find that energy? It must take a big toll.
I approach every tour like it is my last tour. I am the strongest / weakest person you’ll ever meet. It’s a weird Jekyll and Hyde relationship. It’s just like art—you create, and then you destroy. And when I go out on the road, I’m putting it on the line, I’m taking it to the next level, I put 100% into my shows. Some nights, the voice just feels too good and the audience wants more, and it will end up being a five hour show. But no matter what, I do two hours of country. It’s like I have to go the extra mile to be able to rock out, and to pay respects to my fans and to make sure everyone got their money’s worth, I always do two hours of country, and then I go off into the Hellbilly and all of the other sounds.
It’s pretty intense for right now. And one day it might not be as hard, but where I get that energy and that drive from is playing every show like it’s my last show, and putting it on the line while I can. Because if I make it to my 50′s then yeah maybe I’ll get back into the country fairs and not be as intense. It’s hard to say where I’ll be. You look at Lemmy and you look at Willie. Who knows what the future holds. Right now I’m very proud to have the diverse audience that I have. A lot of people have preconceived notions of about how fame was just handed to me when it’s not been like that. It’s hard to carve out your own niche when you’re standing in the shadows of Hank Sr. and Hank Jr. But I feel comfortable that people have accepted me for Hank3. Not everybody gets it, and not everybody is supposed to. It’s a long show, and it’s a hard one. I’m trying to put on the biggest little show in a bar out there, and know that there’s no one else in the world doing what we’re were doing as far as at the level that we’re at.
Where is your band sitting these days? There’s been a lot of interest if Andy Gibson (steel guitar player) will be returning.
Some of the guys just need a break every now and then. I’m sure when I’m recording another record, I’ll check in and see what’s going on with Andy. Dwayne [Dennison] is not going to be out on this next tour. And just for the record, this last tour was barely able to get off the ground. I got double booked. I got confirmed on a show I didn’t give the go ahead on, and just as of yesterday I got a crew together, so this one has been down to the wire. So were having to work extra hard on this gig.
And word generally on when we could expect a new album or albums, or what we could expect from them once they’re released?
I can’t go off full bore into a whole other project just yet until I break even off of the two records that I released. So once I break even from Brothers of the 4X4 and A Fiendish Threat, then I can start putting my efforts off into either a new country record, or whatever it is. So right now I’ve just been doing a good bit of side work, and playing to keep playing. But there’s nothing officially set at this point. I’m basically in road mode still. And as soon as I hear that I have broken even, I’ll move on to the next one.
The saga continues around the casting of Tom Hiddleston as the iconic Hank Williams for an upcoming biopic on country’s first superstar called I Saw The Light. Though filming isn’t even scheduled to start for another few weeks, the concerns of having a British native play the park of Hank has some country music fans in a stir.
The grandson of Hank Williams, Hank Williams III (or Hank3), spoke out previously about the casting, worried that Hiddleston was not the right person for the part.
“To do a Hank Williams movie the way it should be done you need certain aspects in the mix to make right,” said Hank3. “It goes way beyond having an American to play the role of Hiram Hank Williams, Sr. for it to be somewhat natural, needs to be an American from the South who has eat lived and breathed these kind of roles before to make more respectable movie on Hank Sr.”
Hank3 suggested that recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey could do it, though he said this was only a suggestion, not a specific request.
Over the weekend, video surfaced of Tom Hiddleston making a surprise appearance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan on Saturday (9-7) where performed a rendition of the Hank Williams classic âMove It On Over.â On Sunday, Hiddleston returned to Wheatland with mentor Rodney Crowellâwho has been personally working with Hiddlestonâto sing a version of âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cry.â
Since then Hank3 has responded yet again. In a comment right here on Saving Country Music, and on his personal Facebook page, Hank3 said, “You got no soul or moan in your voice,” in response to Tom Hiddleston’s video, and posted a video of himself singing Hank Sr.’s “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” from his Live in Scotland album.
UPDATE: Hank3 has subsequently added in another comment on Saving Country Music:
Its very simple to make a great movie you start off with great foundation. And as far as a European actor playing a American Icon in my eyes that in its self is a super weak foundation for a Country Music Icon. My view on that alone topic alone will never change no matter who the European actor is. If it was your family being represented by a outsider you might have the same feelings. Keep that in mind.
Tom Hiddleston has done his best to reassure fans that he will do the best job he can portraying the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Tom said in late June,
The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,â Hiddleston says. âHe worked hard, played hard, lived hard â there were women, there was whiskey â but when he sang about being in the doghouse in âMove It On Overâ, or about his heartbreak in âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cryâ, it came from an honest place.Â Hankâs life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. Itâs a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. Iâm going to give it everything Iâve got.â
The role of Hank Williams is likely to be a discussion point all the way up to the release of the film. The production for I Saw The Light has already secured the rights to Hankâs songs from publishing company Sony ATV, and have said that along with Hankâs original recordings, Hiddleston will be performing certain songs in the movie live.
Hank3 is currently getting ready to leave on tour.
Tom Hiddleston’s Performance:
When movie actor Tom Hiddleston was first cast in the role to play Hank Williams in the upcoming biopic I Saw The Light, there was concern of whether a British actor could pull off the part of the Southern born and bred Hillbilly Shakespeare. Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, or Hank3, spoke out about the matter, saying that a Southern man should be cast in the role. Though Hank3 gave respect to Hiddleston who was taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he was concerned he couldn’t evoke the pain Hank Williams felt as a Southerner. This concern has also been expressed by other Hank Williams and country music fans.
Now we have received our first taste of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, and some are applauding, and some have started the furor over the casting anew. Though Hiddleston seemed to do a fine job singing, some Hank Williams fans are not feeling the similarities in the style.
Hiddleston made a surprise appearance at the Wheatland Music Festival in Michigan on Saturday (9-7) and performed a rendition of the Hank Williams classic “Move It On Over.” On Sunday, Hiddleston returned to Wheatland with mentor Rodney Crowell—who has been personally working with Hiddleston—to sing a version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
The production for I Saw The Light has already secured the rights to Hank’s songs from publishing company Sony ATV, and have said that along with Hank’s original recordings, Hiddleston will be performing certain songs in the movie live.
Far from some of the dated and shoestring budget productions centered around the life of country music’s first superstar, I Saw The Light is set to be a full budget feature film in the same vein of the Johnny Cash biopic I Walk The Line. The movie is based off of the biography from Colin Escott, and is written and directed by Marc Abraham. Production is set to begin in October in Louisiana. The ambition and expanse of the film is one of the reasons many Hank Williams fans are showing so much interest in the casting of the iconic country music figure.
Tom Hiddleston has said about the role,
âThe film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,â Hiddleston says. âHe worked hard, played hard, lived hard â there were women, there was whiskey â but when he sang about being in the doghouse in âMove It On Overâ, or about his heartbreak in âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cryâ, it came from an honest place.Â Hankâs life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. Itâs a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. Iâm going to give it everything Iâve got.â
Though there is still a month before production begins, this video below is an early sign of what people might expect of Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams.
â Elisabeth Waldon (@elisabethwaldon) September 7, 2014
The question about David Allan Coe has never been if he’s a badass, but if he’s a little too badass. Some of his stories are hard to believe. Others are even harder to validate. And others are hard to herald because of the malevolent nature of the occurrences or outcomes. David Allan Coe is a living dichotomy. Heâs a scary, weird, train wreck of a man; one of these people we all knew growing up in school or in the neighborhood that was always in someoneâs face and that could twist off at any moment. At the same time, and for some of the same reasons, David Allan Coe is an American treasure, and a country music legend. And country music, and the rest of the world, would be a lot less of a colorful place without him. Because whether you like him, respect him, or hate him, there will never be another person or performer in country music or the American culture like David Allan Coe.
More in this series:
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Wanda Jackson Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
- 10 Badass George Jones Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Billy Joe Shaver Moments
- 10 Badass Kris Kristofferson Moments
- 10 Badass Alan Jackson Moments
1. Spending 20 Years In Reform School & Prison
In a genre of music where what you’ve done and how you lived goes a long way into putting legitimacy behind the songs you sing, David Allan Coe’s story is arguably filled with more street cred than any other major performer in the history of the genre. Institutionalized from 9-years-old in reform schools, David Allan Coe committed crimes such as robbery and grand theft auto in early adulthood, and ended up in and out of jail and prison for two decades. Though Coe claims a lot of miraculous meetings with former and future famous individuals and other rowdy incidents while in the pen, including killing a man in self-defense and spending time on death row (see at bottom), one claim that is widely accepted is that while incarcerated in Ohio, Coe met fellow Ohio native Screamin’ Jay Hawkins who encouraged Coe to pursue songwriting. David’s rough and tumble early life would go on to lay the foundation for future songs that would help shape the sound of country music. When he finally got out of prison in 1967, he stayed out, and put together one of the most legendary, curious, and colorful country music careers the genre has ever seen.
2. Living In A Hearse / Parking It at the Grand Ole Opry
After getting out of prison in 1967, David Allan Coe moved to Nashville to pursue his country music career. He was homeless at the time, and lived in the back of a red Cadillac hearse that he parked regularly in front of the Ryman Auditorium—aka the “Mother Church of Country Music” where the Grand Ole Opry was conducted at the time. Crudely decaled to advertise the Opry, as the crowds came and went, there was David Allan Coe busking in front of the famed venue. It was his way of getting the attention of the industry. What was the result? It worked. Plantation Records recognized Coe and signed him to the label. Coe’s first two albums—Penitentiary Blues and Requiem for a Harlequin—were through Plantation, and that was the big break he needed. Later he singed with the major label Columbia Records.
3. Being The First Country Artist to Have and All Girl Backup Band
That’s right. The man that would probably would be fingered as country music’s biggest misogynist had country music’s first female backing band called the Ladysmiths. Though they only lasted a short time too early in Coe’s career for many people to notice, he still deserves the distinction.
“Not only was it an all-girl band, but they were from New Jersey,” David Allan Coe once said in an interview. “Seven years later Porter Wagner [Wagoner] had his TV show, and had an all girl band and that was a big deal. Porter was famous so he got the credit for being the first to use an all-girl Country band. Nobody paid attention when I did it. I wasn’t famous – and it didn’t matter to me.”
Of course, you have to balance out this info with the fact that Coe once also claimed to have as many as seven wives, and once claimed allegiance to the Mormon Church to justify his polygamy. As you can imagine, the Mormons were not happy.
From Michael Bane’s “The Outlaws”
4. Recording “The Ride”
If you’re anything like me, when you first heard this song, and when you realized Coe was singling about Hank Williams, it was one of those singular musical moments that made your spine tingle and the hair on your arms stand on end. Written by Gary Gentry and J.B. Detterline Jr. and released in February of 1983, “The Ride” simply wasn’t just another great David Allan Coe song, it was the one that revitalized his struggling career at the time, and put him back on the mainstream map.
Columbia Records had fitted Coe with legendary Countrypolitan producer Billy Sherrill. The Coe / Sherril collaboration was a success, and along with another hit of the era “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile,” “The Ride” drove David Allan Coe to the top of the country charts. The song made it to #4 on the Billboard Country chart, and spent 19 weeks in the chart.
5. Writing “Take This Job & Shove It”
One of the biggest songs of David Allan Coe’s career, and Johnny Paycheck’s. The #1 hit (the only one of Paycheck’s career) released in October of 1977 created its own colloquial expression and snowclone that is still in practice today. It inspired a 1981 film of the same name and too many popular culture references to count. Coe released his own version of the song on his 1978 record Family Album and an alternative version called “Take This Job And Shove It Too” that included the line, “Paycheck you may be a thing of the past”—a veiled stab at Johnny who Coe felt betrayed him by alluding to the public that he wrote the song.
6. Living In A Cave After IRS Seizure
David Allan Coe once had a house in Key West with other songwriters such as Shel Silverstein and Jimmy Buffett. In fact it was when listening to Silverstein’s off-color comedy songs that Coe was inspired to record his two X-rated albums, Nothing’s Sacred in 1978, and the Underground Album in 1982. Coe had a falling out with Jimmy Buffett when Buffett accused Coe of stealing the melody of his song “Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” for his song “Divers Do It Deeper.” Buffet later said, “I would have sued him, but I didn’t want to give Coe the pleasure of having his name in the paper.”
Coe nonetheless had hard times coming. In 1990 his contract with Columbia Records came to and end, and after a bitter divorce and troubles with the IRS, Coe’s Key West home was seized and he was thrown out on the street. With no place to go, David Alan Coe lived in a cave for several months in Tennessee, or at least that is how the story goes. Some have questioned the validity of Coe’s cave-living claims.
7. Being Criminally Overlooked for Writing & Recording Powerful Love Songs
Whenever you say the name “David Allan Coe,” people immediately think of his hellrasing Outlaw songs, confederate flags and the use of the ‘N’ word, his X-rated albums, prison time, and many other seedy events that have sensationalized his life and country career. But what might be the most underrated part of David Allan Coe’s contributions is his ability to write and record some of the best, most touching love songs the country genre has ever heard. The breadth of David Allan Coe’s songwriting ability, and his ability to perform a heartfelt tune when called upon it is something that even the most hardened David Allan Coe detractors could find beauty in.
Coe’s first big success in country music came as the songwriter for Tanya Tucker’s #1 hit in March of 1974, “Would You Lay Me Down (In A Field Of Stone).” Coe’s own version of the song is also highly regarded by singers and songwriters. His recording of “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” written byÂ Johnny Cunningham was Coe’s highest-charting single in his career, hitting #2 on the Billboard Country charts, and Coe’s “Jody Like A Melody” rarely leaves a dry eye in the house.
David Allan Coe’s long relationship with producer Billy Sherrill, who was known as one of the founders of the refined Countrypolitan sound, resulted in some beautiful recordings that may not balance out all the bad he’s done in his life, but certainly speak to the wide expanse of Coe’s talent and contributions.
8. Standing Up to Casino Security Guards in Iowa
In June of 2008, David Allan Coe was at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa with his girlfriend (now wife) during a stopover between shows. The altercation happened after Coe hit the jackpot on a slot machine. His wife stayed with the machine to collect the jackpot, and Coe moved on to another slot to continue playing. When the casino workers came to deliver the jackpot, they told David’s girlfriend that he had to be present because he was the one who pushed the button. When the casino workers found Coe at the other slot machine is when the trouble started. As Coe was trying to give the casino proper ID, a young security guard became combative with Coe. To avoid an altercation Coe began to walk away, but security cornered him, wrestled him to the ground, detained him, and charged him with Disorderly Conduct and other charges.
Bad thing for the security is the entire thing was caught on tape, and completely corroborated David Allan Coe’s side of the story. It clearly shows security unnecessarily wrestling Coe to the ground, and all charges were dropped. Coe blames the incident for why he has to walk with a cane, and still down while performing. He counter sued the casino.
The video of the incident is pretty astounding.
9. Partnering with Pantera for Rebel Meets Rebel
Yes, there’s many partnerships and collaborations in music where two famous artists or bands get together and do something that is usually really exciting on paper, but the results musically are fairly negligible beyond the novelty of the collaboration. Rebel Meets Rebel took it a step further, and has withstood the test of time for many fans of both David Allan Coe and metal band Pantera.
Recorded between 1999 and 2003, and not released until May 2nd, 2006—two years after Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was brutally murdered on stage. This wasn’t David Allan Coe playing metal, or Pantera playing country. This was a true collaboration that mixed influences from both disciplines. Hard-edged and unapologetic, it is mostly a meal for the red meat crowd, but stands above most other country/metal collaborations as one that got it right.
10. Surviving a Horrific Car Crash
If you need any further evidence of just how badass David Allan Coe is, just appreciate that in March of 2013, David Allan Coe was broadsided by a Peterbilt 18-wheeler in Ocala, Florida and live to tell the tale. The impact sent Coe’s 2011 black Suburban all the way into a nearby parking lot, which the semi ended up on its side and wrapped around a cement pole. Coe suffered cracked ribs and bruised kidneys, and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, but was back performing months later. Just looking at the pictures from the accident, it’s a wonder Coe made it out alive. A badass indeed.
BONUS #11 – Recording “You Never Even Call Me By My Name”
Bonus #12 – Being Part of the 1% Outlaw Motorcycle Gang
Badass DAC Moments That Are Probably Not True
Taught Charles Manson How To Play Guitar - Though David Allan Coe claims he taught Charles Manson how to play while they were both in prison together, there’s no evidence to support that the two were in prison together ever, let alone that Coe would have the kind of access to Manson to teach him. Another man Alvin “Creepy” Karpis is given credit by most sources for teaching Manson guitar while in prison.
Killed A Man In Prison / Served Time on Death Row - This has been one of Coe’s most contentious claims; sworn to be true by him, but refuted by journalists, penitentiary workers, and legal experts. According to Coe, while in prison a man tried to rape him, so Coe killed him in self-defense. When a story in Rolling Stone in the 70′s refuted Coe’s claims, he wrote a song in response called, “I’d Like To Kick The Shit Out Of You.”
More in this series:
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Wanda Jackson Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
- 10 Badass George Jones Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Billy Joe Shaver Moments
- 10 Badass Kris Kristofferson Moments
- 10 Badass Alan Jackson Moments
In early August it was revealed that Guernseyâs Auctions out of New York City was preparing to auction off 2,000 items from the Waylon Jennings estate in Chandler, Arizona, with the proceeds going to the Phoenix Childrenâs Hospital. The items are being offered for sale by Waylonâs widow, Jessi Colter, who was married to Waylon for over 30 years. The auction is set to transpire on October 5th at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Now even more details of the auction items have been revealed as the auction house has made a detailed auction guide available for pre-order.
The items will be made available for preview in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum starting on October 3rd. Out of the 2,000 items, there will also be 500 lots, or groups of items that will be auctioned together. Telephone and online bidding will also be available.
Included in the auction is a pair of ornate leather boots once worn by Hank Williams. Thereâs also an authentic set of Willie Nelsonâs famous Indian braids given to Waylon in 1983 by his long-time Outlaw friend to celebrate Waylonâs newly-found sobriety. Thereâs also the original contract signed by Waylon that officially formed The Highwaymen supergroup with Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, and a letter to Waylon from John Lennon. Thereâs also a leather-clad Telecaster being sold (though not the main one Waylon played). But the crown jewel of the collection will be the Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979 (read more).
Though Waylon was originally from Littlefield, TX, his Phoenix history runs deep. Waylon got his start as a solo performer at JDâs in Phoenix. Owner Jimmy D. Musiel pattered his club around Waylon and his Waylors as the house band. Waylonâs Arizona estate in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is where he spent much of his time, and where he passed away on February 13th, 2002.
For more information on the auction, visit www.guernseys.com.
Braids Willie Nelson gave to Waylon after he found sobriety.
“Storms Never Last” Bronze Bust
Waylon’s Stage Chair
Waylon’s Personal Rolex Submariner Watch
Porsche Design Sunglasses & Case
Porsche Design Sunglasses
Partner Desk Given to Waylon by Johnny Cash in 1985
Original contract forming the supergroup The Highwaymen.
Photo Display from the Music Row Museum
Muhammad Aliâs Training Gloves
Muhammad Aliâs Ring Robe Presented to Waylon Jennings by Ali in 1978
Letter from John Lennon To Waylon
Original Black Crayon Drawing of Johnny Cash by William Nelson
Hat Worn by Hank Williams Jr. During a Live Performance
Nomination Plaque for âMamas Donât Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboysâ
Fender Custom Shop Waylon Jennings Telecaster
Waylonâs Favorite Pair of Lucchese Boots
Engraved ST Dupont Black Chinese Lacquer and Gold Lighter c. 1970s
Hank Williamsâ Custom-made Nudie Cowboy Boots
Costume Worn by Jennings in Sesame Streetâs Follow That Bird
âThe Buddy Holly Daysâ
Baume Mercier Watch
Nashville Rebel Poster with Autograph
Autographed Nashville RebelÂ Poster WITH ORIGINAL SHARKEYâS POSTER
1943 Martin Guitar 00021
The Highwayman Goes Gold
Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979.
As one of the primary members of country music’s “Class of ’89″ that’s regularly given credit for veering country music into a too commercial direction, Alan Jackson seems to never be given enough credit for being one of the genre’s staunch traditionalists that has stood up for the roots and the legends of country music arguably more than any other mainstream star, and just as much (if not more) than The Outlaws of the 70′s did. When you sit back and reflect on his now legendary career that has seen the sale of over 80 million records and seen Alan amass dozens of industry awards, there is no question Alan Jackson deserves the distinction of being an ultimate country music badass.
More in this series:
- 10 Badass Waylon Jennings Moments
- 10 Badass Johnny Cash Moments
- 10 Badass Merle Haggard Moments
- 10 Badass Wanda Jackson Moments
- 10 Badass Marty Stuart Moments
- 10 Badass George Jones Moments
- 10 Badass Hank3 Moments
- 10 Badass Billy Joe Shaver Moments
- 10 Badass Kris Kristofferson Moments
1. Starting His Career in the TNN Mailroom
Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings got their start in music as DJ’s. Kris Kristofferson started out as a janitor in the Columbia studios. For those with music in their blood, they will do whatever it takes to get their foot in the door of the music business. For Alan Jackson, it was getting a job in the mailroom of The Nashville Network’s offices.
Jackson was born in Newnan, Georgia, and grew up in a house built out of his grandfather’s old tool shed. Jackson’s mom still lives in the house to this day. Jackson had been married to his high school sweetheart Denise for 6 years before deciding to move to Nashville to pursue music full time. Once they hit Music City, Jackson needed to do something to support the household, and TNN was hiring. He later met Glen Campbell and the rest is history.
2. Wearing a Hank Williams T-shirt on the 1994 ACM Awards
Today this would be no big deal. In fact it would probably be considered an upgrade from some of the ridiculous regalia many modern-day country stars get duded up in on award shows. But in 1994, country music’s prime time presentations were still very much black tie affairs. And here comes Alan Jackson walking out for his performance wearing a Hank Williams T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. It would pale in comparison to what would happen next on the show (see below), but Alan bucking the black tie dress code was scandalous on its own, and was probably meant as its own protest against the ACM’s stuffy atmosphere and a presentation that showed little reverence to the roots of the music.
Executive producer Dick Clark in a backstage interview during the show asked Alan, âHere you are on television in front of millions of people. Why do you have a Hank Williams T-shirt on?â
Jacksonâs response was, âWell, I love Hank, and a fanâŠI get a lot of gifts on the road playing, and a fan gave me this shirt, and I just saw it in the closet before I came out here this weekend and I grabbed it and said, âIâm gonna wear it for my song,â you know, âGone Country.â Hankâs country.â
3. Protesting The Backing Track on the 1994 ACM Awards
The 1994 ACM Awards were in many ways Alan Jacksonâs oyster. Held at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on May 3rd, Alan walked away that night with the Top Male Vocalist award, and co-hosted the event with Reba McEntire. But when it came to performing what would be his upcoming #1 single and one of the signature songs of the era âGone Countryâ, Alan Jackson couldnât sit right with the charade most country award shows pull on their audience.
Before the show, producers told Alan that he had to play to a pre-recorded rhythm section track, which Jackson clearly felt was tantamount to lying to both his fans and the audience. So instead of playing along with the charade, Jackson tipped off the audience to the subterfuge by telling his drummer Bruce Rutherford to play without sticks. So as the performance transpires and everything sounds perfect, there is Alan Jacksonâs drummer, swinging his arms like heâs playing the drums, but with no sticks in his hand.
Trust the ACM’s never asked Alan Jackson to play to a backing track again. And this wouldn’t be the last time Alan Jackson would pull a fast one on award show producers….
4. The “Pop A Top / Choices” George Jones CMA Awards Protest
Just before the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was asked to perform an abbreviated version of his song “Choices”. George, feeling that he wasnât a âbaby actâ as he put it, refused, and boycotted the show. And in a super act of class, Alan Jackson, while preforming his song âPop A Topâ, cut his own song short, and launched into Georgeâs âChoices”.
ââWe were all so nervous,â Alan Jackson later recalled. âThe guitarist had this solo in the middle of âPop a Topâ, and the song sort of modulates up at the end of the solo. I signaled to him that we were going to do it, and he just stopped. I looked over at him and he was sweating. The boy looked like he was going to bite his lip off. Then I hit that C chord to start âChoicesâ. â
As you can see in the video, the crowd began to roar and rise to their feet when Jackson launched into the George Jonesâ comeback hit.
5. Releasing Under The Influences Tribute Album
During the height of Alan Jackson’s commercial success, he decided to do something rarely seen in modern day country from a superstar: he released an album made entirely of classic country covers. Including two songs from Johnny Paycheck, a cover of Merle Haggard’s “My Own Kind Of Hat”, and Hank Williams Jr.’s “The Blues Man”, Jackson’s label heads must have thought he was crazy. The album was Jackson’s way of pushing back against the pop-ification of country that was becoming a hot topic in the genre at the time.
What was the result?
It was a big success. Though it can be argued that an album of more original music might have done better, Under The Influences went Platinum, and included two hit singles. Nat Stuckey’s “Pop A Top” ended up at #6 on Billboards Country Songs chart, and Bob McDill’s “It Must Be Love” first made famous by Don Williams went all the way to #1. Alan Jackson proved that the classic country sound was still relevant, and commercially viable if given a chance.
6. Recording and Writing “3 Minute Positive Not Too Country Up Tempo Love Song”
Not since Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs & Waltzes”, and arguably no other song since has protested pop country’s propensity for commercialization and shallowness as well as this loquaciously-titled song written by Alan Jackson himself for his 2000 release When Somebody Loves You.
7. Recording “Murder On Music Row” with George Strait
Arguably one of the most important country music protest songs in the history of the genre, “Murder On Music Row” written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell became a big success when Alan Jackson joined up with George Strait to release the song in 2000. The duo first performed the song in 1999 at the CMA Awards, and the next year the performance won the CMA for “Vocal Event of the Year.” Then the following year when it was released on George Strait’s Latest Greatest Straitest Hits album, it was awarded the CMA for “Song of the Year.” That’s right, a song talking about how country music had been murdered on Music Row walked away with the genre’s highest distinction for a song.
Even though the song was never released as a single, unsolicited airplay still saw the song chart on Billboard at #38. At George Strait’s final concert in June of 2014, the duo performed the song again to the largest crowd to ever see an indoor live music event
8. “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”
In stark contrast to the inflammatory nature of Toby Keith’s post-911 ĂŒber hit “Courtesy Of The Red, White, & Blue”, Alan Jackson did his best to humanize and come to peace with the tragedy of 9-11 through song, and it resulted in both his most critical and commercial success of his career. Written by Jackson himself, when he first played it for label executives, there was complete silence in the room for a full minute after it stopped. Jackson was scheduled to perform his current #1 song “Where I Come From” at the 2001 CMA awards in November, but mere days before the presentation, he decided to play “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” instead. The four CMA heads were not happy about this decision until Jackson’s tour manager Nancy Russell played the song for them. They were all crying by the time the song ended.
After Jackson played the song on the CMA Awards, demand for it skyrocketed. The song was so new, his label hadn’t officially released it as a single yet, but stations already with a copy started playing it, and the song shot to #25 on the Billboard Country Songs chart almost immediately. By the next week it was at #12, and by the end of the year, it was #1 where it stayed for five weeks. It also charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #28.
Jackson’s label couldn’t make the song a commercial single fast enough to meet demand, so they instead decided to move up the release date of his album Drive from May of 2002 to January 15th. When the album was released, it went to #1 on both Billboard’s country and all-genre charts, and stayed there for four weeks off the strength of the song. “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” eventually won both the “Single of the Year” and “Song of the Year” from both the CMA and ACM Awards, as well as the Grammy for “Best Country Song.” It also helped propel Alan Jackson to be awarded both “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” by the CMA Awards in both 2002 and 2003.
Jackson said about the song, “I think it was Hank Williams who said, ‘God writes the songs, I just hold the pen.’ That’s the way I felt with this song.”
9. Being Nominated For The Most CMA’s Ever In One Year
Bolstered by his song “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”, Alan Jackson received a total of ten CMA nominations in 2002—the most in CMA history. Jackson won five of them.
- 2002 Album of the Year – Drive (Won)
- 2002 Male Vocalist of the Year (Won)
- 2002 Entertainer of the Year (Won)
- 2002 Single of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Won)
- 2002 Song of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Won)
- 2002 Song of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Single of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Vocal Event of the YearÂ – “Designated Drinker” w/ George Strait (Nominated)
- 2002 Video of the Year “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” (Nominated)
- 2002 Video of the Year “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” (Nominated)
10. Keeping Virtually The Same Band & Producer Throughout His Entire Career
Every single one of Alan Jackson’s 15 major label album releases has been produced by Keith Stegall. Even when Jackson switched labels from Arista, Stegall stayed on board.
Jackson has also kept virtually the same band the entire time, aside from using a few bluegrass ringers for The Bluegrass Album. The loyalty Alan Jackson shows in his people, and his people’s loyalty in him, is both a sign of integrity and success.
- Monty AllenÂ â acoustic guitar, harmony vocals
- Scott ConeyÂ â acoustic guitar, tic tac bass, banjo
- Robbie FlintÂ â steel guitar
- Danny GroahÂ â lead guitar
- Ryan Joseph – fiddle, harmony vocals
- Bruce RutherfordÂ â drums
- Joey SchmidtÂ â keyboards
- Roger WillsÂ â bass guitar
More in this series:
Guernsey’s Auctions out of New York City is getting ready to liquidate a massive 2,000-piece collection of items owned by Waylon Jennings from his Arizona estate, with the proceeds from the auction going to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The items are being offered for sale by Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, who was married to Waylon for over 30 years. The auction is set to transpire on October 5th at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
What can collectors expect from this rare chance to own a piece of authentic Waylon Jennings memorabilia? Well for starters, there’s a pair of ornate leather boots once worn by Hank Williams that are adorned appropriately with a Phoenix on the front, and an ‘H’ in the middle for “Hank”. There’s also an authentic set of Willie Nelson’s famous Indian braids given to Waylon in 1983 by his long-time Outlaw friend to celebrate Waylon’s newly-found sobriety. There’s also the original contract signed by Waylon that officially formed The Highwaymen supergroup with Willie, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash, and a letter to Waylon from John Lennon. There’s also a leather-clad Telecaster being sold (though not the main one Waylon played). But the crown jewel of the collection will be the Ariel Cyclone motorcycle previously owned by Buddy Holly, and given to Waylon Jennings as a birthday present in 1979.
Waylon Jennings played bass for Buddy Holly right before he died in the plane crash in 1959 that was later memorialized in the Don McLean song âAmerican Pie”. Waylon was supposed to be on that flight, but gave his seat up to The Big Bopper. 1 1/2 years before in May of 1958, Buddy Holly and his original Crickets flew in to Dallasâs Love Field airport on a connecting flight back to Lubbock after a big tour. But instead of flying, the three decided to purchase motorcycles and drive back.
âThen they went over to Millerâs Motorcycles, which specialized in English bikes,” Waylon recalled in his biography with Lenny Kaye. “There, Joe B, and J.I. (Allison) bought a Triumph each, a TR6 and Thunderbird, respectively, while Buddy picked out a maroon and black Ariel Cyclone, with a high compression 650cc Huntsmaster engine. They paid cash, bought matching Levi jackets and peaked caps with wings on them, and rode home through a thunderstorm.â
Then in 1979 for Waylonâs 42nd birthday, the two remaining Crickets Joe B. and J.I. tracked down the 1959 Ariel Cyclone, bought it back, and had it hand delivered to north Texas where Waylon found it sitting there in the middle of his hotel room after walking off stage that night.
âWhat else could I do? I swung my leg over it, stomped on the kickstarter, and it burst into roaring life. First kick. It was midnight, and it sounded twice as loud bouncing off the walls of that hotel room. I knew Buddy wouldnât mind.â
The motorcycle was eventually put on display at Waylon’s home in Arizona.
Though Waylon was originally from Littlefield, TX, his Phoenix history runs deep. Waylon got his start as a solo performer at JD’s in Phoenix. Owner Jimmy D. Musiel pattered his club around Waylon and his Waylors as the house band. Waylon’s Arizona estate in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler is where he spent much of his time, and where he passed away on February 13th, 2002.
An auction catalog with detailed descriptions and pictures of each item is expected to be made available to the public for $32 from Guernesy’s later in August, and the items in the auction will be available for preview in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum starting on October 3rd. Out of the 2,000 items, there will also be 500 lots, or groups of items that will be auctioned together. Telephone and online bidding will also be available.
Along with making the Phoenix Children’s Hospital lots of money, let’s hope some of the more important items end up where they can enjoyed not just by the high bidder, but by all of Waylon’s fans.
When it comes to mainstream country music males, Dierks Bentley is one of the few remaining good guys left. Dierks has made a career of straddling the line between commercial and critical acceptance, making friends and fans across the cultural divide that separates country music by what are many times deep-seated ideological differences. That is why it’s unfortunate that on a recent promotional video for the upcoming broadcast of CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock on ABC on Tuesday, Aug. 5th, Dierks Bentley said some things that somewhat alienate country music’s older, middle-aged, even 30-something fans, and exposes a deeper issue with CMA’s Fan Fest—both with their LP Field lineup at the early June festival itself, and their annual television broadcast of footage taken from the fest later in the summer.
“What I love about CMA Music Fest, it reflects where country music is, you know?” Dierks says in a short promotional video, put together by Taste of Country (see below). “It’s a young, current, hip thing that’s happening that deserves to be in a downtown city center that’s new and growing and feels vibrant and just feels … represents the music properly. You know, this is not like your grandfather’s country music anymore.”
Dierk’s statement is no “Old Farts & Jackasses” declaration by any stretch, but it does state what has been obvious about CMA Fan Fest for a few years now, and a trend that seems to be growing deeper with each new installment.
The CMA’s “Vision Statement” says,
CMA is dedicated to bringing the poetry and emotion of Country Music to the world. We will continue the tradition of leadership and professionalism, promoting the music, and recognizing excellence in all its forms.
But aside from a few token gestures, the CMA Music Festival presentation only features the current and biggest stars of country, not all of the great acts from the past that have made country music the commercial powerhouse it is today, or many of the up-and-comers that are offering a lot of promise to country’s future. By Dierks saying, “It’s a young, current, hip thing that’s happening that deserves to be in a downtown city center that’s new and growing and feels vibrant” before reminding us country music is no longer like our grandfather’s music, he’s saying by default that older country music and their fans are boring and irrelevant. That may be the case to the 15-year-olds the video shows partying down at LP Field, but that’s not the case for many of the other fans and artists of country music that the CMA is charged with supporting and promoting along with the young and hip.
On the CMA website, the organization defines country as:
Country MusicÂ - the sound of Jimmie Rodgers yodeling â Keith Urban blasting out a guitar solo â The poetry of Hank Williams Sr. on âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cryâ -Â A room full of convicts cheering on Johnny Cash as he sings âSan Quentin, I hate every inch of youâ -Â Alan Jackson speaking for the common man in the wake of September 11th -Â Feisty Loretta Lynn, and tearful Tammy Wynette -Â Roy Acuff showing off yo-yo tricks at the Grand Ole Opry -Â Miranda Lambert performing a heartfelt ballad -Â The King of Country George Strait â The showmanship of superstars Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, TimÂ McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift.
Country Music moves its fans, hits them where they live. Its artists have traveled millions of miles and recorded just as many songs in their quest to articulate the lives and hopes of everyday Americans. The songs make up a tapestry of the American life.
Unlike other music genres, Country Music artists have been supported for more than five decades by a trade organization dedicated to the advancement of the industry as a whole.
This definition paints a picture where there’s space for all. Sure, pop country and Keith Urban guitar solos have their place. But so does the poetry of Hank Williams and the sound of Jimmie Rodgers yodeling. The CMA is supposed to be about “the advancement of the industry as a whole.” But you won’t see that on Tuesday night’s broadcast. The few token artists that actually made it on the LP Field lineup at the CMA Fan Fest in 2014 are being left off the television presentation, but you will see non-country performers like Nikki Sixx and Vince Neal of MĂ¶tley CrĂŒe on the broadcast, and semi-former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.
Unfortunately, the CMA Fan Fest seems to not be about promoting country music, but promoting the idea that country music is a lucrative place for advertisers and sponsors looking to appeal to young demographics. As a trade organization, The CMA should be concerned about the commercial solvency and success of country music, but it shouldn’t do it through the abandonment of it’s stated mission and charters, or the huge population of country fans older than age 30. You can’t tell me there aren’t tons of fans who will be sitting at home on Tuesday night who wouldn’t love to see George Strait, Willie Nelson, or Alan Jackson perform. And by promoting these artists’ appearances, the CMA would broaden the appeal of the presentation.
Instead of representing country music as a “young, current, hip thing” and “not like your grandfather’s country music anymore,” why not present the revolutionary idea that music, and country music specifically, is something that people of all ages can enjoy together? Wouldn’t that be the way to appeal to the most people? Wouldn’t that be more in line with the CMA’s stated mission?
The health status of Randy Travis still remains very much in question, but that is not stopping the Randy Travis camp and Warner Bros. from releasing the second installment of his Influence: The Man I Am series on August 12th. The first album in the series was released on September 30th, 2013—a few months after Randy suffered a serious heart condition and subsequent stroke. Travis had to undergo brain surgery, and has been taking part in significant rehabilitation and physical therapy ever since the health episode.
Randy’s Influence series of releases looks to chronicle the classic country songs that went into the sound that may Randy Travis one of the most popular and influential country music artists of the late 80′s and into the 90′s and beyond. The new collection includes covers of Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On”, Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, Hank Williams’ “Mind Your Own Business”, and Waylon Jennings’ “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. It also includes the Randy Travis tribute to George Jones “Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum” written by Keith Gattis. Randy’s performance of the song at the 2013 CMA Fan Fest was one of his last public performances before his health issues (see below). Travis recorded both volumes in the Influence: The Man I Am series before last year’s health scare.
The extent of Randy’s paralysis after his stroke and surgery, and if he will ever sing again have been a topic of great speculation in the tabloid press, with multiple unnamed and named sources leaking conflicting information about Randy’s health status, while pictures of Randy appearing in public continue to surface. Last week yet another story citing an unnamed source surfaced in Closer Magazine, saying, “He hasnât plateaued in his recovery, which is always a big fear. He really faces a long, tough battle.â The story also cites songwriter and Randy Travis friend Bonnie Paul who says, “Heâs taking great strides and getting better. Heâs a cowboy! If he gets back his strength, then anything is possible.â
Meanwhile any true health information about Randy’s status remains unclear, and his camp has yet to release any official statements about his prognosis or rate of recovery.
This Influence: The Man I Am series gives Randy Travis fans something new to listen to while Randy continues his hard-fought recovery to better health.
Finally one of the most under-appreciated, but wildly-influential lyricists in country music, one of country music’s forgotten Outlaw artists, and one of America’s most creative personalities is going to get his due on the silver screen. Shel Silverstein is slated to receive the biopic treatment in a film called A Boy Named Shel—a play on words of the song “A Boy Named Sue” made famous by Johnny Cash, and written by Shel. The movie will be a screen adaptation of the book A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein written by Lisa Rogak reports Variety.
The beauty of Shel Silverstein was that he was so many different things to so many different people. To many children and adults who grew up with his books, he was a master poet and illustrator, entertaining generations with his releases such as A Light In The Attic and Where The Sidewalk Ends. To others he was a legendary cartoonist for Playboy Magazine. Still others know him as a lyricist of the rock and roll world, penning the iconic tunes “Cover of Rolling Stone” and “Sylvia’s Mother” for Dr. Hook. While others remember Shel for his country music contributions, including writing songs for other famous songwriters, not limited to Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Tompall Glaser, and Bobby Bare. Bobby Bare once released an entire album of Shel songs. Silverstein also was a noted performer himself and released numerous albums, and also worked in the theater realm.
A Boy Named Shel will explore the “personal and professional struggles” of Shel Silverstein’s life. Silverstein died in 1999 at the age of 68 at his home in Key West. The film is being developed by Wonderland Vision and Sound, known for such films as We Are Marshall and Terminator Salvation. Adapting the book for film will be writers Chris Shafer and Vicknair, and Wonderland Vision principals McG and Mary Viola are producing, along with Sean Sorensen and Mathew Cullen.
No word as of yet on whose bald head will reprise the famous cranium of one of America’s most beloved poets and entertainers, or any other casting news. But all signs point to A Boy Named Shel being a big production movie that will hopefully shine a greater light on the man and his work. Shel joins a growing list of country greats receiving the biopic treatment recently. In June it was announced a Hank Williams biopic was in the works, and Waylon Jennings is also supposed to be receiving a feature film soon. Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line went on to be an award-winning account of the Man in Black, and went a long way to revitalizing interest in the country music great.
Actor Tom Hiddleston, most recently of blockbuster comic book movies such as Thor and The Avengers, was announced on June 12th as the leading role in an upcoming biopic about the life of Hank Williams called I Saw The Light. The English native who studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is a hot commodity in movies at the moment, and is reportedly already working on reprising Hank Williams, including rehearsing songs he will sing in the movie, while still finishing up his current project.
On June 18th, TMZ posted an abbreviated story about how Hank’s grandson, Hank Williams III, or Hank3, was angry about the choice of an Englishman to play the role, and that a Southerner like Matthew McConaughey would be a better fit. Later Hank3 clarified his statements after the TMZ piece spurned accusations of racism and whether Hank3 had the right to criticize the casting. Hank3 had reached out to TMZ, but they refused to post any further information.
Tom Hiddleston recently spoke to The Daily Mail about the film, reassuring concerned country music fans about the reverence with which he will approach the role.
“The film is about the man behind the myth, the power of his music, the sheer voltage of his talent and charisma, and his formidable demons,” Hiddleston says. “He worked hard, played hard, lived hard â there were women, there was whiskey â but when he sang about being in the doghouse in ‘Move It On Over’, or about his heartbreak in ‘Iâm So Lonesome I Could Cry’, it came from an honest place.Â Hankâs life has a tragic arc, but in simple truth, he was a genius: a star that burned twice as bright and lived half as long. Itâs a huge role for me and a huge responsibility. Iâm going to give it everything Iâve got.”
Hiddleston, who says he’s “already started singing and playing every day,” also told The Daily Mail he’s been working with Rodney Crowell to get pointers on how to emulate Hank. “It was spine-tingling just to spend a day playing some of Hank’s greatest hits like Hey Good Lookinâ and Long Gone Lonesome Blues with such a gifted musician. He’s already expanded my vocal range and given me a few pointers about adapting my own tone to sound like Hank. Rodney has furnished me with his beautiful J45 Gibson to practice with. And he’ll be on hand throughout the shoot.”
Further details about the movie were also revealed, like how the film will delve into the personal relationships Williams had with his wife Audrey, his mother Lillie, songwriter and executive Fred Rose, his second wife, and is Drifting Cowboy band, and will run all the way up to Hank’s death on New Years Day, 1953.
I Saw The Light is set to begin filming in Louisiana in October. It is based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hankâs life, and is directed and written by Marc Abraham.
Which one is your favorite, Jack White or The Black Keys?
For me the answer is simple…
All the silly talk about who was first and who ripped off who is moot when you bury your nose in the music catalog of the prototype of that predatory, aggressive, two-piece sound that blends blues, rockabilly, rock, country, surf, and a cavalcade of other obscure influences into the wild-eye concoction Dex Romweber has been throwing down for going on 30 years. One of the founding members of the ridiculously-influential two-piece band called the Flat Duo Jets that Jack White and many more of today’s most heralded artists hold in the highest of regards as the originators of the sound, Dex Romweber is still going strong with the Dex Romweber Duo that has released its latest album through Bloodshot Records called Images 13.
Today Dex Romweber is suited up with his sister Sara, and though we’re so used to artists of the crazy variety slowing down and losing heart as they grow older, nothing could be further from the case when it comes to this sibling duo. Dex is still howling and moaning like he always has, and playing his guitar with such abandon, he pulls off riffs most other guitar players only can land by accident. Meanwhile sister Sara is no slouch by any stretch, slapping the skins like she was trying out for a punk band full of 20-somethings. This is “watch your head!” type music. You push play, and hold on, from both the wild ride of a rambunctious attitude, and the dizzying styles they run through along the way.
Images 13 keeps listeners on their toes, opening up with the song “Roll On” that sounds like something you’d hear coming from the hottest clubs still catering to live music. From pre-punk influences like the silly and playful “So Sad About Us” (apparently an obscure, early cut from The Who), to the surf-influenced numbers like “Blackout!” and “Blue Surf”, to the blue-eyed soul of “We’ll Be Together Again” (by Eddie Cochranâs girlfriend Sharon Sheeley about Cochran’s death in a car accident that she and Gene Vincent survived), there’s just about no precinct of the musical palette safe from being tickled by Dex at some point. He can even get mysterious and dark in songs like “Prelude in ‘G’ Minor” and the 50′s Horror Comic aura and curious chords of “I Don’t Want to Listen”. They even go Avant-garde on the last track “Weird (Aurora Borealis)”, taken from TV’s Harry Lubin who wrote the music for The Outer Limits.
Half the time you don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s half the fun of it. Dex Romwever goes wherever his whimsy takes him, and with such a handsome tool chest of musical skills to call upon at any notice, and a music encyclopedia for a brain, he can. He’s like the American music version of silly putty. It’s the sound of America longing for a simpler past, and finding horror movies about haunted houses and flying saucers, sun-drenched beaches with dangerous undertows shaded through sepia tones, and Memphis sweat corroding the lacquer of catalog guitars. He even unplugs and slows it down for “One Sided Love Affair”—a number with the simplicity and universal sentiment indicative of a Hank Williams song.
It blows my mind any time I’m talking to a fellow music nerd and they give me a “Dex who?” But isn’t that always the way with the originators of a sound, especially ones whose influences are so varied as this one. Like J.J. Cale, like fellow Bloodshot Records artist Wayne “The Train” Hancock, they’re undefinable, yet wildly influential. And though not everyone will be familiar with their music, everyone has heard it in the music of others.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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The grandson of Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, aka Hank3, is not happy with the casting of English actor Tom Hiddleston in the upcoming biopic about his grandfather. The new retrospective called I Saw The Light will be based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hankâs life, and directed and written by Marc Abraham, an American film producer known for such movies as Spy Game and most recently The Man With The Iron Fists. Production of the film is set to start in Louisiana in October.
In a story initially run by TMZ, the entertainment news organization said succinctly,
“Hank Williams III tells TMZ … producers cookin’ up a Hank biopic blew it when they cast British actor Tom Hiddleston to play the legendary country crooner. Hiddleston’s best known for his role as Loki in “The Avengers.”Â Hank3 says producers should have cast Matthew McConaughey as Hank because Matt represents the South both in movies and real life.Â Hank3 singles out ‘The Dallas Buyers Club’ to prove Matt has the acting chops to get the job done well.”
As Far the Age factor a lot of folks are talking about Matthew is to old for this role.. Keep this in mind. Most folks that Look at Hank sr, Cant believe he was only 29. Meaning that he looked way way way older then he was. So that in its self shoots down the aspects of having clean crisp young actor to play this role. Hank Williams was a very old soul. Inside and out…And having a more a seasoned actor well in my eyes would only make it a better movie. I want someone to play Sr who is actually born as real Southern American that has some heritage in the blood and could possibly Identify with the role on a more personal note. I’m not part of the Hank Williams Estate so I have nothing to gain or loose, All that money is for Hank Jr and Jett Williams. It would be nice to see a well made movie on him since the last one was hacked apart by Audrey pretty much.
You know if this movie doesn’t do it right on down the road another one will. Cause that’s the gift Hank Williams will always have is being TimeLess!
Hank Williams Sr life was shortened by a death A doctor with a fake license.
Hank Williams was playing Rock N roll before Rock N Roll was and was doing Doom before Doom was even a genre with his Luke The drifter records.
Shelton Hank Williams III aka HANK3
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Previously Hank3 also posted:
As far as alot of the TMZ Comments go. A> Yes My WHole Name is Shelton Hank Williams III. B> Yes I said A American actor should play Hank Sr out of respects to the heritage and Family. C> WHy Is wanting a American to play the role being Racist? D. As far as people Sayin Matthew is to old to play Hank sr since he is 45…Dont froget Hank Sr looked way way way Older then 29….The Headline Should of said Hank3 wishes they Would of Used American Actor Matthew McConaughey to keep traditional roots alive in new Hank Sr Movie. Leave it to TMZ To Take a positive and turn it into a negative.
Country music legend Hank Williams will be getting a brand new retrospective in an upcoming movie called I Saw The Light that will be based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hank’s life, and directed and written by Marc Abraham, an American film producer known for such movies as Spy Game and most recently The Man With The Iron Fists. English actor Tom Hiddleston, known best for his work in recent Marvel Comics movies such as Thor and The Avengers, has been cast in the leading role as Hank Williams.
Production of the film is set to start in Louisiana in October, and the film’s producers have reportedly struck a deal with Sony ATV, who owns the rights to all of Hank’s songs, to use his iconic compositions in the film. It is a co-production between Bron Studios, RatPac Entertainment, and Creative Wealth Media Finance according to deadline.com, with Marc Abraham, Brett Ratner, and G. Marq Rosell all being listed as producers, and James Packer as executive producer.
The biopic film on Hank Williams has been rumored for quite some time, with director Marc Abaraham being quoted previously that the film has been his top priority. Tom Hiddleston, who is currently in the midst of filming another movie, is said to be practicing to perform the songs âYour Cheatinâ Heartâ, âIâm So Lonesome I Could Cryâ and âHey Good Lookinâ” in the film.
Unlike other films about Hank Williams such as the small-budget The Last Ride released in 2012 about the final few days of Hank’s life, or the 1964 musical Your Cheatin’ Heart where Hank was played by George Hamilton and it took a more theatrical take on tHank, all indications are that I Saw The Light will be a more proper biopic in the vein of the award-winning Johnny Cash film Walk The Line from 2005 that revitalized interest in the singer’s career.
Stay tuned as more information about this important film becomes available.
Tom Hiddleston tweeted out the below photo simply saying “I Saw The Light” yesterday.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read that comedian and country music performer Brad Paisley‘s new album due out August 26th was called Moonshine in the Truck and “sees Paisley adapting the modern technology of EDM and dubstep to the classic country formula.”
Just read this following quote from Brad Paisley, if you can somehow comprehend it and make it all the way through, while understanding this is supposed to be a country music artist, and one of the “good guys” at that.
“When you hear a banjo through stutter edit, it’s the coolest thing you ever heard,” Paisley told Billboard. “I have a song that’s a basic love song, it’s got a great groove, and I cut this guitar part that gets distorted when I turn the nob up.Â I would say to Luke [Wooten, the producer], ‘Oh, that should’ve been done 20 years ago, but they couldn’t.’”
You’re making crazy talk Brad that I don’t exactly understand, but I’ll take it as a sign that yet another one bites the dust, gives up the ghost, pulls a Benedict Arnold, and has migrated to the other team. Please turn in your cowboy hat on the way out the door.
This is the problem folks. You try to be a pragmatist. You try to find some common ground. Hey, Paisley is a likeable guy: funny, smart, and yes, a great guitar player. But everywhere you look, as someone who simply cares a little bit about the sound that traditionally is considered to be country music, just paying scant attention is an exercise in getting socked in the nuts while being told you’re a closed-minded idiot who just wants all music to sound like Hank Williams. “You know, music has to evolve, man! They said Waylon wasn’t country either! Patsy Cline was pop too!”
And then it gets even worse from Mr. Paisley if you can believe it.
“The rulebook’s gone, or was there ever one?” Brad says. “They try, but I don’t play by it.”
Oh come on Brad, you played by the rulebook for fifteen years, and now by going in some “EDM” direction, you’re conforming to the rules more than ever. Breaking the rules on Music Row these days means actually playing country music. That’ll get you 86′d from your major label deal and knocking on the doors of Americana faster than anything. It’s like what songwriter Luke Laird recently said to The New York Times: “Right now, to write a country rap, itâs almost predictable. Itâs more of a risk to write a traditional country song.â
And possibly the worst commentary about all of this is that it’s not even shocking that Brad Paisley’s next album will be “EDM inspired.” Of course it will be. It’s predicable, and expected, and virtually required. And meanwhile the dissent that was being levied last summer by many worried artists about all this madness in country music has gone hush.
What’s the solution? I don’t know. I guess we should just wait for the bass to drop.
25 tracks unearthed from four live studio performances recorded in Nashville in 1950 come together to constitute a new edition to theÂ complete work of the Drifting Cowboy, Hank Williams. The performances, released by Omnivore Records and originally sponsored by Naughton Farms, a mail-order plant nursery in Waxahachie, TX, capture Hank Williams in his purest form with his Drifting Cowboy Band, and similar to previous releases of Mother’s Best Flour-sponsored programming, also include banter in between the songs that is preserved for the listener’s enjoyment, and for further insight into Hank Williams beyond the music.
The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 is a quality release with recordings that come across with sharpness and surprising clarity for sessions that were just recently unearthed and went unheard and undiscovered for nearly 64 years. Since they were recorded in the same studio as many of Hank’s other iconic recordings, there’s no appreciable drop in quality from his more formal studio releases, despite the live aspects of the recordings. Once the recordings were made, they were transferred to 16-inch transcription disks and sent to radio stations across the country for broadcast. Many of the disks were misplaced or discarded, but a set discovered at KSIB in Creston, Iowa led to this Garden Spot Programs release.
Williams offers new renditions of some of his most iconic tunes, including “Lovesick Blues” (twice), “Mansion On The Hill”, and “I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)” along with some other songs that Hank introduces as “novelty” like “Mind Your Own Business” and “I’ll Be A Bachelor ‘Till I Die”. As Hank Williams biographer and co-producer of this project Colin Escott points out, on many of the recordings, Hank’s regular steel player Don Helms isn’t present, and Cousin Jody is playing steel instead, adding a unique wrinkle to these recordings from the originals.
Though there are 25 tracks here, there may not be as many full songs here, and this album may not last as long as some listeners would like. The four shows the recordings are taken from transpire in ordered segments that start with an opening Garden Spot jingle, are bisected by a 30 to 60-second fiddle tune, and end with a Garden Spot closing spoken by Hank that leads into a “Oh! Susanna” minute-long instrumental. When these recurring segments are taken out, this leaves only twelve complete songs as part of this recording, but these twelves songs are as strong as any Hank Williams ever released, and the jingles and fiddle tunes hold their own appeal in helping to take you back in time and envision the studio scene that these recordings capture.
The album ends with the 3-minute Naughton Farms ad—the whole reason for these performances—that pitches to listeners the mail-order offer of “15 thrilling rose bushes mountain collected in assorted colors of reds, pinks, whites, along with two hydrangeas, one tulip tree, and two lovely gardenia plants, for the amazingly low price of $1.98.” Now that’s a good deal. The by-gone innocence in all the extra material on this album gives it the warmth of setting, really putting you back in that 1950′s frame of mind.
Though nothing in this new collection feels like an essential piece of the Hank Williams puzzle, it is a welcome new offering that will be well-received by Hank Williams fans and once again helps us remember and continue the legacy of arguably the most important man in country music.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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The legal troubles continue for Jett Williams Adkinson, the 61-year-old daughter of country legend Hank Williams Sr. and the half-sister of Hank Williams Jr. For the second time in three months, one of country music’s most famous daughters has been arrested for DUI in Wilson County, TN, east of Nashville. She was stopped Friday May 9th at 11 PM, and was arrested for both DUI and for Violation of Implied Consent, meaning she refused to submit to a sobriety test. She was released Saturday morning on a $1,500 bond.
Jett was also arrested on February 25th for DUI, also in Wilson County when she was observed swerving in between lanes in her 1998 Jaguar at 2:30 AM. She failed a field sobriety test, and was also cited for not wearing her seat belt and having no proof of insurance before being released on $1,000 bond. Jett’s current residence is in Hartsville, TN in Wilson County.
Jett Williams is a country music performer and the co-executor of the Hank Williams estate. She is the daughter of Hank Williams Sr. and Bobby Jett, who Hank had a brief relationship with between his two marriages. She was born five days after Hankâs death, and was adopted by Hankâs mother, Lillian Stone after her birth. When Lillian passed away in 1955, Jett became a ward of the state before being adopted, and lost touch with her Hank Williams lineage. In 1985, she was found by the Alabama State Court to be the daughter of Hank Williams, and was awarded a half-share of the estate. Jettâs husband, lawyer Keith Adkinson, died in June of 2013.
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