The Greatest Hank Williams Tribute Songs of All Time
- The song has to be a true Hank tribute from stem to stern, not just mention Hank.
- The song has to be mostly about Hank, meaning no “Hank & Lefty” because that’s about both men equally (but still a good song).
- 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start with “You forgot…” and end with “…this site is completely illegitimate” just because I forgot to mention some unpublished Hank tribute from a local singer in your town.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.
- 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
October 15, 2014 @ 6:08 pm
How is Tramp On Your Street not on there?
October 16, 2014 @ 9:56 am
Absolutely. George Jones’ “Tamp on Your Street” from “The Rock: Stone Cold Country” album. You can tell the ‘ole Possum felt every word of that song as he sang it.
October 15, 2014 @ 6:11 pm
You need to here ” Just Like Hank” by Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros
October 15, 2014 @ 6:21 pm
There was a band out of RVA called The Hotdamns! which had a song called “Mr. Williams” which was REALLY GOOD…if I can find a link, I’ll share
October 15, 2014 @ 6:25 pm
OK, if you have spotify, check this….
October 15, 2014 @ 6:56 pm
Also, Joe Swank & The Zen Pirates “Hank Williams Died For My Sins”
October 15, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
Great list, Trig! I had forgotten about the Mark Chesnutt song. Didn’t expect to see the Jason Boland song here. I always had it pegged as a general protest song a la”Murder On Music Row.” I can see it as a Hank tribute, though.
(Incidentally, the JB&tS album that song appears on is 2004’s Somewhere in the Middle. If you ever make a list of great covers of Billy Joe Shaver songs, I hope “Thunderbird Wine” from this album is way up on that list!)
October 15, 2014 @ 6:43 pm
The Ghost of Hank WIlliams by Coe is a great one (It made the “honorable mention” list) I actually heard him play about half of it live in concert about ten years back
October 15, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
if you like that list check out hankwilliamslistings.com he has a huge collection of songs mentioning or about the greatest singer ever ever ever
October 15, 2014 @ 7:14 pm
For the longest time I thought that I heard that Lou Reed wrote Pale Blue Eyes about Hank. But I just looked it up and apparently it isnt so. I still like to think he did.
October 16, 2014 @ 12:55 pm
I have never heard that theory… but it definitely would change how I heard the song (which I love).
If you have not hear Elizabeth Cook’s cover, I encourage you to give it a listen. She has an amazing country take on his music (recorded Jesus and Sunday Morning.)
October 15, 2014 @ 7:15 pm
A couple decent ones…
I’ve Done Everything Hank Did But Die – Keith Whitley
I Think Hank Woulda Done It This Way – Blue Chieftains
October 15, 2014 @ 7:17 pm
Need to checkout Houston Marchman’s “Hank’s Angel”. Hell you just need to checkout Houston Marchman.
October 15, 2014 @ 8:15 pm
I feel like Hank Williams Tonight is a Chris Wall song, not a Jerry Jeff song. Get it together.
October 16, 2014 @ 7:15 am
If you’re going to call a point of order because you feel the songs should be associated with the writers rather than the recording artists who made them famous you need to make a comprehensive case rather than cherry-picking one song. I’m guessing half of those songs were written by someone other than the person who recorded them.
October 15, 2014 @ 9:28 pm
Is there something I can do – by Arty Hill. That one was downright heartbreaking.
October 15, 2014 @ 9:55 pm
This is my new favorite article on my favorite website. My two favorite kind of songs are hurtin’ songs and Hank tribute songs. Go figure.
October 16, 2014 @ 3:38 am
I’ve always liked Dry County’s “Waiting On Hank”
October 16, 2014 @ 3:49 am
Hate to do this as I am sure it is just a typo (Twice)…but it is Hawkshaw Hawkins.
October 16, 2014 @ 4:16 am
Nice list! here’s a link to Slaid Cleaves song:
October 16, 2014 @ 5:38 am
Thanks for the list ”“ I’ll have to check all of these out!
Holly Williams has a beautiful song called “Sometimes” that ends with a verse about Hank. The song is not completely about him so it wouldn’t fit the criteria of this list, but it’s a good’n nonetheless.
“I wish I were an angel in ’52
In a blue Cadillac on the eve of the New Year
And there I would have saved him, the man who sang the blues
But maybe he is listening right now
Hopefully he’s listening right now”
October 16, 2014 @ 6:12 am
Emmylou Harris recorded “Rollin’ and Ramblin’ (the Death of Hank Williams)”, a Robin and Linda Williams song, on her “Brand New Dance” album in 1990. It’s on the Williams’s “All Broken Hearts Are the Same” album–a really terrific record, btw.
October 16, 2014 @ 6:46 am
nice, KK’s “If You Don”™t Like Hank Williams” tops my personal list.
TX Music Jim
October 16, 2014 @ 6:55 am
Love the list, one i always loved is a Houston Marchman Song “Hanks Angel” I believe Eleven Hundred Springs cut “Hank” a few years before Boland did both have great versions. My favorite Hank Sr tribute song is DAC and “the ride”.
October 16, 2014 @ 7:44 am
TX Music Jim — the Eleven Hundred Springs version is a favorite too, though honestly I’m partial to Boland’s version. It actually showed up on the Eleven Hundred Springs album Bandwagon, which came out earlier that year (2004). It was written by Aaron Wynne, who at the time was the band’s steel guitar player.
October 16, 2014 @ 7:43 am
Nearly 40 years on, and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” manages to get more true and poignant all the time….
October 16, 2014 @ 8:26 am
I know alot of these songs but not all of them, so i can’t wait to get off work and listen to them all! Great article!
October 16, 2014 @ 9:49 am
Another great Bocephus Hank song is the “Tee Tot Song” from The Almeria Club Recordings. I point this one out to everyone who says Junior hasn’t written a good song since the 80s.
October 16, 2014 @ 10:14 am
Hank’s Cadillac is a beautiful song. She sings it with such feeling I get chills.
October 16, 2014 @ 11:01 am
Another great article Trigger! Hank is my all time favorite artist and tribute songs to him are some of my favorite songs. There are so many listed here and in the comments that I haven’t heard that will definitely get checked out. And Rex, I’m glad you pointed out the Dry County song. One of my favorites. One I would like to share is one called “Hank Williams Records” by Hellbound Glory. Great kiss off song as well as tribute song.
October 16, 2014 @ 11:42 am
It’s not about him and it’s not country, but Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song” has the great lines “I said to Hank Williams ‘How lonely does it get?’/Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet.”
October 29, 2014 @ 2:01 pm
Glad to see Tower of Song mentioned, but the kicker (and the sign of how much Cohen admires Hank) comes in the lines that follow the ones you quoted:
…But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song
Tom the Polack
October 16, 2014 @ 12:12 pm
DAC’s ‘Ghost of Hank Williams is my number one.
October 16, 2014 @ 3:36 pm
quite remarkable isn’t it? That number of people writing that many songs about one man.
very interesting article, thanks.
October 16, 2014 @ 4:43 pm
Thanks Trigger, I hadn’t even thought about The Waterboys in ages. You made me go dig out the vinyl for a listen.
October 17, 2014 @ 1:12 am
That’s a great list …. there’s a damn fine compilation album in there!
October 17, 2014 @ 4:15 am
EmmyLou’s “Rollin”™ and Ramblin'” and Alan Jackson’s “Midnight in Montgomery” are my personal favorite Hank songs.
October 17, 2014 @ 5:20 am
Great list, Trigger.
I personally have always been deeply moved by Marty Stewart’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash / High On A Mountaintop. A great concept album tribute.
October 17, 2014 @ 10:30 am
“Hank Williams Syndrome” is one of my favorite ballads by Waylon.
October 20, 2014 @ 5:08 pm
“I Wanna Hear Somebody Honkin’ Out Some Hank” by Gary P. Nunn!
October 21, 2014 @ 8:59 am
This is my favourite as it take a solid poke at todays’ more shallow country singers.
October 21, 2014 @ 10:13 am
Many arguably best songs from this list, but my #1 is “The Ride”. You break that song down and it is so chilling and a journey in a short song, that is my favorite. No matter DAC singing it or who covers it, it is a killer tune.
Also, Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” could get airplay today. What a timeless piece.
January 5, 2016 @ 7:16 am
Great article and list. Found some songs I didn’t know about. BUT, let me suggest another one. I was visiting the Hank Williams Musuem in Montgomery, and I told Beth the coolest item there was a hand-written note that Sr left to Jr. She said Jr turned the note into a song, called “Hand Me Down.” It is on the Three Hanks CD, Men With Broken Hearts. Listen to it good, it’s worth it.
January 5, 2016 @ 7:58 am
Also, “127 Rose Avenue” by Jr. The title is the address of Sr’s boyhood home in Georgianna, Al, which is now a museum
Kenneth Denny, Jr.
April 14, 2022 @ 12:35 am
“There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me” (Charley Pride)
“Man to Man” / “Standing in the Shadows”/ “Hand Me Down”/ “Hank”/ “When He Sang”/
(Hank Williams, Jr.)