Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘Hanks a Lot”

Bethpage Public Library, July 28, 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 … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ‘Hanks a Lot”

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 ’60 Years in a Distant Country’

May 22, 2021 “The Elliptical Song”  (Tennessee Walt, 2017) This song violates one of the most sacred rules of storytelling:  Specificity is better than generality.  Don’t write “Enter a MAILMAN,” write “Enter TOM, a mailman.”  Don’t say “The room was a mess,” say “Chairs were overturned, unwashed dishes and glasses were everywhere, there was broken … Continue reading Program Notes: Tennessee Walt’s ’60 Years in a Distant Country’

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