Hank Williams – Your Cheatin’ Heart

***I have posted my 10 favorite covers of Beatle songs at Keith’s site nostaligicitalian ***

The man was such a great songwriter. His influences stretched from Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Rolling Stones and everyone in between…so lets hear it for The Hillbilly Shakespeare

This could be William’s best known song. Williams wrote this shortly after divorcing his wife, Audrey Mae Sheppard. They married in 1944 right after Audrey got a divorce from her husband.  The pair would go on to record several duets together (and produce a son, Hank Williams Jr.), but Williams’ drinking ultimately caused trouble in their marriage.

When Hank described his first wife (Audrey) having a cheatin’ heart to country singer Billie Jean Jones, who would soon become his second wife, he was inspired to write the song.

This song was recorded in September of 1952. He would die in January 1,  1953. This would be his last recording session. He also recorded  recording Kaw-Liga, I Could Never Be Ashamed of You, and Take These Chains from My Heart. 

His last single during his lifetime was  I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive backed with I Could Never Be Ashamed of You which was released in November  1952.

Your Cheatin’ Heart peaked at #1 on the US Country Charts in 1953.

Billie Jean Jones (second wife) on Hank Williams saying the phrase in a car: “Then he said, ‘Hey that’d make a good song! Get out my tablet, baby, you and I are gonna write us a song,'” “Just about as fast as I could write it, Hank quoted the words to me in a matter of minutes.”

From Songfacts

Williams recorded this in September 1952 during what would be his last session at Nashville’s Castle Records. He would die just months later from heart problems (or, some say, suspicious circumstances) on the way to a New Year’s concert in Canton, Ohio. The song was posthumously released in January 1953 and topped the Country & Western Billboard Charts for six weeks.

Many artists have covered this over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Glen Campbell, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ray Charles’ 1962 version was a hit in both the US and the UK, peaking at #29 and #13, respectively.

Rat Pack member Joey Bishop recorded this in the ’60s on the album Cold, Cold, Heart. Bishop was an actor, and many people considered his version so bad it was actually entertaining. On the album cover, Bishop is dressed in a rhinestone cowboy costume. It contains liner notes by fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin. 

For the line “You’ll walk the floor, the way I do,” Williams took inspiration from his friend Ernest Tubb’s “Walkin’ the Floor Over You.” He also recorded three of Tubb’s hits, which were released posthumously: “First Year Blues,” “It Just Don’t Matter Now” and “I’m Free at Last.”

This song shares its name with the 1964 biopic of Hank Williams, starring George Hamilton. Hank Williams Jr. recorded the soundtrack album.

Two versions of this hit the pop charts in 1953: Joni James’ at #2 and Frankie Laine’s at #18.

Your Cheatin’ Heart

Your cheatin’ heart
Will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry
And try to sleep
But sleep won’t come
The whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

When tears come down
Like falling rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name
You’ll walk the floor
The way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

Your cheatin’ heart
Will pine some day
And crave the love
You threw away
The time will come
When you’ll be blue
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

When tears come down
Like falling rain
You’ll toss around
And call my name
You’ll walk the floor
The way I do
Your cheatin’ heart
Will tell on you

Hank Williams – Lost Highway

This man was brilliant and so was the song but this is one song that Hank did not write. Leon Payne wrote and released this song in 1948. Blind since he was a child, Payne wrote hundreds of songs, some of which were recorded by  Hank Williams, John Prine, Elvis Presley, George Jones, and Johnny Cash, and many more.

Payne had been hitchhiking around and working jobs. One day he needed to get home to his sick mother in Alba Texas. No one would pick him so he wrote this song on the side of the road.

Hank Williams released this song in 1949 and it peaked at #12 in the Country Charts. This song is one of my favorite country songs.

From Songfacts

This song gave us two of the most famous metaphors in music: the Lost Highway and the Rolling Stone (from the line, “I’m a rolling stone, I’m alone and lost”).Both images represent a wandering spirit that keeps moving but often ends up in dark places. Many musicians who left town to pursue their dreams could relate to these concepts and used them in songs. The Lost Highway shows up in:“All I Left Behind” and “Guitar Town” by Emmylou Harris“Heart Is A Drum” by Beck (“You’re falling down across your lost highway”)“Happiness” by Lee Ann Womack (“Down by the lost highway cafe I met a man there with a map in his hands”)“Jesus Of Suburbia” by Green Day (“At the end of another lost highway. Signs misleading to nowhere.”)Those New Jersey ramblers Bon Jovi made their song “Lost Highway” the title track of their 2007 album; in 2009, Willie Nelson also released an album of that name. In 1997, director David Lynch released a suitably disconcerting movie called Lost Highway.

The saying “a rolling stone gathers no moss” dates to biblical times, but this song popularized it in the musical landscape. It was Williams’ version that gave Bob Dylan the title for “Like a Rolling Stone,” which has been the subject of many essays, including one written by Ralph Gleason, who used the phrase when he founded the magazine Rolling Stone.In 1950, Muddy Waters released the song “Rollin’ Stone,” which is where The Rolling Stones got their name from.

This became one of Hank Williams’ most famous songs, but he didn’t write it. It was written by a blind singer named Leon Payne, who released the original version in 1948. According to an interview with Payne’s widow published in the book , he wrote the song when he was hitchhiking from Texas to California when he got stuck for a stretch and was taken in by the Salvation Army.His version is surprisingly upbeat, featuring a string band and various quips by Payne throughout the song.Payne’s version didn’t reach the charts, but when Williams recorded it in 1949, that rendition made #12 on the Country chart. The song grew in popularity as Williams legend grew, as it was so associated with his itinerant lifestyle of wine, women and song.Payne, who died in 1969, also wrote the popular songs “I Love You Because” and “Psycho.”

Lost Highway was used as the title for an off-Broadway play about Williams that ran in 2003.

Artists to cover this song include Leon Russell, Tom Petty, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Osborne Brothers, Bill Frisell and Johnny Horton.

Lost Highway

I’m a rollin’ stone all alone and lost
For a life of sin I have paid the cost
When I pass by all the people say
Just another guy on the lost highway

Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine
And a woman’s lies makes a life like mine
O the day we met, I went astray
I started rolling down that lost highway

I was just a lad, nearly twenty two
Neither good nor bad, just a kid like you
And now I’m lost, too late to pray
Lord I take a cost, o the lost highway

Now boy’s don’t start to ramblin’ round
On this road of sin are you sorrow bound
Take my advice or you’ll curse the day
You started rollin’ down that lost highway

Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

One of the most beautiful songs ever written. The lyrics can be read without music and still work. The silence of a falling star, lights up a purple sky, and as I wonder where you are I’m so lonesome I could cry. Songwriters work all of their life trying to come up with a lines like that… Hank had a career of them.

It was originally the B side of “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” released in 1949. The song later peaked at #43 in the Hot Country Charts in 1966.


From Songfacts.

One of the most heart-rending songs ever recorded, it was one of many songs Williams wrote to express his crippling gloom. Most of these songs were inspired by his tumultuous relationship with his first wife, Audrey; the state of their relationship can be neatly chronicled in Hank’s discography with titles like “Baby We’re Really in Love,” “They’ll Never Take Her Love Away From Me,” and “My Love For You (Has Turned To Hate).”

Williams wrote this as a spoken-word piece that he planned to record as his alter-ego, “Luke the Drifter,” which is explains why it contains very poetic imagery in lines like “Did you ever see a robin weep, when leaves begin to die?” Williams thought the piece was to genteel to put to music, but his friends and fellow musicians convinced him otherwise.

You would think that this song was recorded in Nashville, or at least Memphis, but it was done at a session in Cincinnati. Hank recorded it at the E.T Herzog Recording Studios on August 30, 1949 with Jerry Byrd on Steel Guitar, Zeke Turner on electric guitar, Tommy Jackson on Fiddle, Louis Innis on rhythm guitar, and Ernie Newton on bass. Note that there are no drums on the song.

Williams performed the song in October 1949 on his syndicated radio show, which was counterintuitively called the Health & Happiness Show (it was sponsored by a vitamin company called Hadacol, thus the name). The song was released on November 8 as a 78-RPM single with “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It.” The song quickly became a favorite on Country radio and a staple of Williams’ live shows.

A Country music standard, many artists have recorded this song over the years in a variety of styles. B.J. Thomas had the biggest hit with his 1966 version, which made #8 in the US. Other charting entries were recorded by Johnny Tillotson (#89, 1962) and the football player Terry Bradshaw (#91, 1976). Other artists to record the song include Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Dean Martin, Al Green, Freddy Fender, Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Cowboy Junkies, and Elvis Presley.

Singers and songwriters have been heaping praise on this song for generations. In our interview with Vince Gill, he said: “Read the words of that song. That’s as beautiful as you’ll ever want to hear the English language put out.”

Kasey Chambers, who recorded it for her 2011 Storybook album, said: “It’s totally heartbreaking but you don’t want to stop listening to it. Oh God, it just makes you want to crawl into a hole. It has that combination of making you feel good and bad at the same time, which is what all great country music does.”

Kris Kristofferson sang this in the 1974 film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Chris Isaak performed it in the 1996 film Mr. Wrong. The song also appeared in the movies Dutch (1991), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Down in the Valley (2005) and Zombieland (2009). TV shows to use the song include The Virginian (1964), Miami Vice (1988), King of the Hill (1998) and The Wire (2004).

To put this song’s impact in context: Rolling Stone ranked it #111 in the list of 500 greatest songs of all time; making “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” not only the second-oldest song on the list, but one of only two from the 1940s.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
That midnight train is whining low,
I’m so lonesome I could cry.

I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry.

Did you ever see a robin weep,
When leaves begin to die? 
That mean he’s lost the will to live,
I’m so lonesome I could cry.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky.
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry.