It’s perfectly alright to be totally not okay with the news Tuesday (3-1) that Don Williams has decided to go into retirement, again. That hat, that beard, and most importantly that legendary smooth baritone voice that won him 17 #1 hits over his career and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010 can’t just go softly in the night and not expect there to be some sad faces, and disappointed ears.
On February 2nd, Don Williams announced that he was cancelling a 21-city tour planned for February through April due to unexpected hip replacement surgery. Health problems have seen the 76-year-old cancel tours in the past as well. And apparently the prospect of getting back into the touring grind after his recovery was enough for country music’s “Gentle Giant” to decide call it quits for good.
“It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home,” Williams said in a simple statement. “I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support.”
This isn’t the first time Don Williams has officially retired. In 2006, Williams announced he was hanging it up and went on an international tour for one final farewell. As fans of his music can attest, Don Williams sings about taking time to enjoy the simple things in life and making room for friends and family in a hectic world. For some artists, it would seem against their nature to retire. But for Don Williams, he’s just practicing what he preaches.
But the allure of the stage was too much for Williams to stay away for too long, and four years after his initial retirement, Williams announced a new album, 2012’s And So It Goes. The album reminded Don Williams fans why he’s so important to country music, and Don followed it up with another excellent effort, 2014’s Reflections. Don would tour regularly, and appreciative crowds would show up and fill venues to capacity.
So Don Williams is retiring. Again. But I hope he doesn’t hold it against us if we hope for a speedy recovery from his hip surgery, and subsequent tours and albums, if he’s up for it of course. Because as much as the music of country legends like Waylon, Willie, Cash, and Jones is great to listen to, and there’s a brand new crop of artists out there today doing their best to keep the traditions of country music alive, there’s nothing like a soothing Don Williams song, and nobody to replace what he’s meant to country music.