The Greatest Hank Williams Tribute Songs of All Time

hank-williamsHank Williams was the greatest country music singer and songwriter to ever walk the face of the Earth. And if you don’t believe that, just listen to how his fellow country music performers feel about his contributions to the music. Here is a list of the greatest Hank Williams tribute songs of all time.

Ground Rules:

  1. The song has to be a true Hank tribute from stem to stern, not just mention Hank.
  2. The song has to be mostly about Hank, meaning no “Hank & Lefty” because that’s about both men equally (but still a good song).
  3. This is not meant to be an absolute unabridged and unequivocally complete master list of Hank tributes without one single omission. If you see a worthy Hank tribute not mentioned, by all means, please share, because that is the point of this, NOT to be a “Where’s Waldo?” exercise where people go combing through looking for missing songs so you can navigate to the comments and bust my chops with comments that start with “You forgot…” and end with “…this site is completely illegitimate” just because I forgot to mention some unpublished Hank tribute from a local singer in your town. The point is to hopefully to be exposed to a few new songs that will entertain you as a Hank fan.
  4. No order to these songs is intended or implied. Because this could stretch on forever, I tried to prioritize certain songs. But they are all great Hank tributes.

“Hank Williams’ Ghost” – Darrell Scott

Off of Darrell Scott’s 2006 album Invisible Man, the song went on to be nominated for the 2007 Song of the Year by the Americana Music Awards. Excellent video as well with many Hank Williams landmarks featured.


“Hank’s Cadillac” – Ashley Monroe

Written by Ashley Monroe at the tender age of 17, “Hank’s Cadillac” is Ashley attesting she would have figured out a way to keep Hank alive if she had been on his now famous “Last Ride.”


“If He Came Back Again” – The Highwaymen

Though this song was recorded to be included on the final Highwaymen album The Road Goes On Forever, it didn’t make the final cut initially. However when the album was re-issued, it was finally released, and today it remains one of the album’s most popular tracks and a beautiful tribute, despite the somewhat wonky harmonies in the chorus by the cantankerous Highwaymen. Written by Barry Alfonso and Craig Bickhardt.


“Talkin’ To Hank” – Mark Chesnutt

“I saw a shotgun and a guitar and a six-pack of beer
A sign on the front door said ‘Guess, who lives here’
An old red bone hound that looked older than time
And an old man that’s sure he was only twenty-nine”

Released in 1992, the original album version featured George Jones on guest vocals. Written by Bobby Harden.


“Long White Cadillac” – Dwight Yoakam & Dave Alvin

Originally written by Dave Alvin of The Blasters, while Dwight Yoakam was on tour opening for the band early in his career, he heard the song and recorded it himself in 1989.


“Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” – Moe Bandy

The title track off of Moe Bandy’s 1976 album, it was written by Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Paul Craft. One of the most recognizable Hank tributes.


“The Ride” – David Allan Coe

Arguably the most chilling tribute to Hank, co-writer Gary Gentry once told Billboard, “There’s a mysterious magic connected with this song that spells cold chills, leading me to believe that it was meant to be and that David Allan Coe was meant to record it.” He swears when he went to look up the date of when Hank Williams died while writing the song, he opened the book to the exact page where the date was found, and that once when performing the song at the Grand Ole Opry House, as soon as he said the name “Hank” in the last verse, the lights and power went out in the building. “The Ride” was also written by J.B. Detterline Jr., and was released by David Allan Coe in February of 1983. It is also one of the most commercially-successful Hank tributes, coming in at #4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.


“Midnight in Montgomery” – Alan Jackson

Another commercially-successful Hank tribute hit, it tells the story of Alan Jackson visiting the graves of Hank before headlining a New Years Eve show and seeing Hank’s ghost. The song hit #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and Jackson co-wrote the song with Don Sampson. “Midnight in Montgomery” also had a successful video that won the CMA Video of the Year in 1992.


*”The Life Story of Hank Williams” – Hawkshaw Hawkins

As much as a storyteller song as a tribute, it features Hawkshaw Hawkins talking in segments about Hank’s life. It was released in February of 1953, and co-written by Louie Innis. Hankshaw Hawkins would die unexpectedly himself in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline on March 5th, 1963.


 “The Night Hank Williams Came To Town” – Johnny Cash w/ Waylon Jennings

From 1987’s Johnny Cash Is Coming To Town album produced by Jack Clement.


“The Death of Hank Williams” – Jack Cardwell

This was the very first Hank Williams tribute song ever written. As Hank fan and traditional country performer Joey Allcorn explained to Saving Country Music surrounding the release of his album Midnight: The Death of Hank Williams:

To me it was an interesting song because it was the very first Hank Williams tribute. Nowadays, doing a Hank Williams tribute is just sort of par for the course. This particular song that we’re centering the project around, it just captures a very basic feeling that happens after some sort of tragic event. The lyrics that are on display [in the museum] tell a similar story, because it was a woman in Montgomery who heard the words on the radio as a child, and they meant so much to her that she wrote them down. If you go to the Hank museum, they’re still sitting there by Hank’s Cadillac. It’s the handwritten lyrics of this little girl wrote after hearing this song, and when she was upset or sad.

Joey Allcorn performing:


“If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” – Kris Kristofferson

Off of Kristofferson’s 1976 Monument recording Surreal Thing, the song was also included on Hank Williams Jr.’s album Habits Old & New in 1980. The song finds Kris Kristofferson in rare form, with a bowed out chest making bold proclamations.


“The Conversation” – Hank Williams Jr. & Waylon Jennings

One of the most unique collaborations in country music history with Ol’ Hank as the conversation piece, it was was released on Hank Jr.’s 1979 album Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound album first, but showed up on Waylon’s Waylon & Company a few years later. “The Conversation”—written by Waylon, Jr., and Waylon’s long-time drummer Ritchie Albright, was one of the very first country music songs to feature a video. It was a Top 15 hit.


“Hank” Jason Boland & The Stragglers

The first song on their 2009 self-titled LP.

“You don’t like my music, you don’t like my songs
You say you wanna party, you say you wanna rock and roll
That carbon copy music don’t mean a damn to me
Hank Williams wouldn’t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee”


“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” – Waylon Jennings

The seminal Hank Williams tribute, and the seminal country music protest song all wrapped up into one. It was released in August of 1975 and became a #1 hit. Not three chords and the truth—two chords and the truth.

” “Hank, It Will Never Be The Same Without You” – Ernest Tubb

” “The Great Hank” – Robert Earl Keen (About Hank in drag)

” “Things Change” – Tim McGraw

” “When You Died At Twenty-Nine” – Slaid Cleaves

” “Alcohol & Pills” – Fred Eaglesmith

” “If Ol’ Hank Could Only See Us Now” – Waylon Jennings

” “Hank Williams Syndrome” – Waylon Jennings

” “Hank’s Song” – Ferlin Husky

“Tramp On Your Street” – George Jones

” “Rollin’ and Ramblin'” – Emmylou Harris

 

A Selection of Other Great Hank Williams Tributes:

 

  • “A Tribute to Hank Williams, My Buddy” – Luke McDaniels
  • “Hank” – Her Make Believe Band
  • “Here’s To Hank” – Stonewall Jackson
  • “Hank Williams Sings The Bules No More” – Jimmie Logsdon
  • “Hank, You Still Make Me Cry” – Boxcar Willie
  • “Hats Off To Hank” – Buzz Carson
  • “Hank, You Tried To Tell Me” – Johnny Paycheck
  • “I Had A Talk With A Man Last Night” – Vernon Oxford
  • “Hank Williams Isn’t Dead” – Duke Denver and Jeffrey Null
  • “Hank Williams Will Live Forever” – Johnny and Jack
  • “The Night I Met Hank Williams” – Lee Guthrie

 

  • “I Long To Hear Hank Williams Sing The Blues” – Jim Murphy
  • “The Life of Hank Williams” – Rick and Thel Carey
  • “A Legend Froze in Time” – David Church
  • “I Couldn’t Sleep for Thinkin’ Of Hank Williams” – Henry McCullough
  • “Everybody Likes a Hank Williams Song” – Tim Hus
  • “Curse of Hank” – Tim Hus
  • “Ghost of Hank Williams” – Kentucky Headhunters
  • “Ghost of Hank Williams” – David Allan Coe
  • “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” – The Waterboys
  • “Tribute to Hank Williams” – Tim Hardin

 

  • “Crank The Hank” – Dallas Wayne
  • “The Ballad of Hank Williams” – Hank Williams Jr. and Don Helms
  • “Ol’ Hank’s Lovesick Blues” – Gary Stewart
  • “Daddy (I Need You Tonight)” – Hank Williams Jr.
  • “Everybody Wants To Be Hank Williams” – Larry Boone
  • “Montgomery In The Rain” – Steve Young (also covered by Hank Jr.)
  • “The Car Hank Died In” – The Austin Lounge Lizards
  • “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” – Jerry Jeff Walker
  • “This Ain’t Montgomery” – Hank III and Joey Allcorn
  • “Mission From Hank” – Aaron Tippin