Beginning earlier in November—and rising to a fevered pitch over the last few days—there has been concern that the house of Hank Williams called Beechwood Hall is about to be demolished. But the house’s ties to country music and it’s history deserve greater context.
The truth is, Hank Williams at the time was in the twilight of his life, whether he knew it or not. Having suffered chronic back pain throughout adulthood that aided his alcoholism, by late 1952, Hank had turned thin, frail, incontinent, and had lost most of his hair, even though he was only 29 years old.
Imagine having backed Hank Williams on his legendary Grand Ole Opry debut in 1949, or playing behind any of the other country music legends who performed on that hallowed stage during the Opry’s golden era. This was the fortune of steel guitarist Billy Robinson.
If you have a hankering for Hank and haven’t received your fill of music from the Hillbilly Shakespeare over the years, you’re in luck. BMG is getting ready to release a rare collection of Hank Williams archive material made in October of 1949 called “The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings.”
Former professional baseball player turned actor Casey Bond has been cast as Hank’s legendary fiddle player Jerry Rivers. The rest of Hank’s Drifting Cowboys have also been cast, as well as Ray Price and Faron Young. From both the recent casting revelations, and the synopsis found on the Toronto Film Festival’s website, we’re beginning to get a sense of the scope of the film’s focus.
The Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light is currently shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we’re beginning to get the first glimpses of the set and some of the actors in their costumes, while details of some of the specific cast members continue to emerge. Additionally a camera crew from KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport was allowed on the I Saw The Light set and spoke briefly with Tom Hiddleston.
the most rewarding thing Hank Williams fans will walk away with from this collection is a more intimate understanding of the man through the introductions and stage banter that is captured with such breadth in these recordings. Never before has Hank been brought to life in such a real, cognitive way, making this project a provocative, essential listen for the serious Hank Williams fan.