Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘An Afternoon in the Country’

East Hampton Library, August 7, 2021 1.  “Night Train to Memphis” (Roy Acuff, 1942). Roy Acuff It’s impossible to say for sure who did what on this song, since it has three co-writers: Owen Bradley, Marvin Hughes and Beasley Smith.  However, Bradley and Hughes were both best known as musicians, while Beasley was a words-and-music … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘An Afternoon in the Country’

The Night that Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and Porter Wagoner Came to Town

Is it a mystery if not many people care what the answer is? I say it’s a mystery if even one person cares—and, in this case, I’m that person. I didn’t initially recognize it as a mystery.  It started out looking like a song: “The Night Hank Williams Came to Town” (1987).  It’s a pretty … Continue reading The Night that Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and Porter Wagoner Came to Town

Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘A Year in a Distant Country’

March 13, 2021 “Honky Tonking”  (Hank Williams, 1947) Williams actually recorded and released this song twice in consecutive years, once for the low-budget, no-royalties Sterling Records in 1947 and again for the far more professional MGM Records in January 1948. Sterling didn’t have much distribution, so the MGM recording is the version almost everybody knows … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘A Year in a Distant Country’

Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s The Other Great American Songbook

North Babylon Public Library, January 26, 2021 “Setting the Woods on Fire”  (Hank Williams, 1952) Written by Fred Rose and Edward G. Nelson, this is a great example of why many people said that Fred Rose could write a Hank Williams song better than anyone, even Williams himself.  Since the song first hit the airwaves, … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s The Other Great American Songbook

Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s Bristol and Beyond: The Birth of Country Music

Bethpage Public Library, January 24, 2021 “Keep on the Sunny Side” (Carter Family, 1928) Songwriters get their ideas from all over, but the best ones keep their ears open, knowing that any random phrase they hear might be the germ of a great song.  In the case of lyricist Ada Blenkhorn, she had a nephew … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s Bristol and Beyond: The Birth of Country Music

‘Tennessee Walt’s Hank Williams Birthday Party’: Program Notes

“Hey, Good-Looking” (Hank Williams, 1951). Yes, the official name is “Hey, Good Lookin’.”  To understand why I don’t call it that, read my 2016 blog post, “Hank Williams’ Apostrophe: A Quest for Authenticity.”  It’s not about this song specifically, but it might just as well be. Williams’ penchant for borrowing tunes and, often, some of … Continue reading ‘Tennessee Walt’s Hank Williams Birthday Party’: Program Notes

‘Tennessee Walt: An Evening in ‘A Distant Country’: Program Notes

“Waiting for a Train” (Jimmie Rodgers, 1928). Rodgers is credited with writing this song, which he absolutely didn’t do—nearly all of his songs were written by other people or (if his name is on them) adapted from older blues songs or mountain ballads, and this is no exception.  It dates from no later than 19th-century … Continue reading ‘Tennessee Walt: An Evening in ‘A Distant Country’: Program Notes