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Monday, August 11, 2008

Hank Williams - The Biography

I don't think I am sharing anykind of personal insight if I make you (the worthy reader of this publication) aware of the fact that Hank Williams is one of my favorite singers and heroes (whatever that big word may mean) in general. Colin Escott has written an autobiography of the man behind the legend now (such a standard-phrase, had to use it, sorry) together with George Merritt and William Mac Ewen. I feel torn on what the work that they produced. On the one hand it is exhausting to read with a great number of name references that even someone of my knowledge of country/hilbilly of folk (as Hank apparently called it a lot) music simply does not understand. Nashville sidemen, or regional stars and one-hit wonders there are too many. The short introduction that some of these get (because the authors clearly are aware of this knowledge gap) become tiresome after a while and blur together. On the positive side they do a great job of bringing the reader closer to Hank Williams himself, his miserable life before and during fame, his excessive drug consumption, the he doled out and was on the receiving end of. What a character, what a poor man. The music industry in Nashville, which was still being built back then, and its deplorable business aspects receives some spotlight. And finally the unsavory persons circulating around Hank are shown in their sad light. His mother, his first Wife (Audrey) both of whom before and after his death tried to make as much money as possible of him, while especially the latter had stopped caring about or giving him anything years earlier. The lies that they told to make themselves seem closer to the legend. Finally, and a bit more technical, the origin of some of Hank's songs (the non self-composed ones obviously) are focused on, some more material to peruse for me in the future.

So, the Lovesick Blues-boy biography definitely deserves a look at if you understand the beauty that is a Hank Williams song (and as Kris Kristofferson said: If you don't like Hank you can kiss my ass). It'll make oyu have pity on the man that died a wreck at 29 after having given us an immense amount of beautiful music.

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