Friday Five: Songs About Hank Williams

Juli Thanki | September 16th, 2011


Tomorrow is Hank Williams’ birthday. He’d be 88. Though he’s been dead twice as long as he was alive, he remains a central figure in the country music consciousness, perhaps due to his mysterious death as much as the masterful lyrics he penned during his too-short career. Unsurprisingly, more than a few songwriters have tackled the Hank Williams legend. Here are a few of my favorites. What are yours?

5. David Allan Coe – The Ride

It’s not the best idea to hitch a ride from a ghostly pale, “half drunk and hollow eyed” stranger in a classic Caddy, but it seemed to work out well in this song.


4. Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. – The Conversation

“Back then they called him crazy/Nowadays they call him a saint/Now the ones that called him crazy/Are still ridin’ on his name.”

3. Ashley Monroe – Hank’s Cadillac

As you’ll hear in the clip below, Monroe wrote this song when she was just 17, imagining what she’d do to keep Hank alive if she were in the car with him on that fateful New Year’s Eve. Based on this and her songwriting on the Pistol Annies album, it seems like she spent a lot of time studying the master.


2. Johnny Cash – The Night Hank Williams Came to Town

Burgers cost 30 cents and you got to see Hank Williams sing? There’s something to be said for the good old days.

1. Alan Jackson – Midnight in Montgomery

This song about a ghostly encounter with Williams was penned by Jackson and Don Sampson; in 1992 it hit #3 on the country charts. It’s a fantastic song, and the music video makes it even better.

  1. jeff
    September 16, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Mine would also include “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” by Waylon and “The Grand Ole Opry” By Hank 3

  2. luckyoldsun
    September 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Considering that “The Ride” was the original and “Midnight in Montgomery” was the copy, I think you have those reversed.

    I’d throw in “Hank and Lefty Rased My Country Soul” by Stoney Edwards and “Hank William, You Wrote My Life” by Moe Bandy.

  3. Barry Mazor
    September 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I’d add in “”Hank and Lefty Raied My Country Soul” (by Dallas Frazier–see Stoney Edwards version)_, and, a little obscure but worth seeking out.. Irishman Bap Kennedy’s CD “Lonely Street,” all songs about Hanak and Elvis,; it includes “Good Times on Franklin Road” and “Hank’s Last Waltz” both good.. And one more: Tim Hardin’s “Tribute to Hank Williams.”

    There are dozens and dozens of songs about Hank out there, of course..maybe over a hundred..

  4. Jon
    September 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm
  5. Rick
    September 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I enjoy the more light hearted tribute from The Ranch titled “Hank Don’t Fail Me Now!” (lol)

  6. luckyoldsun
    September 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    When I heard the Waylon and Junior song “The Conversation” 20-plus years ago–That’s the first I knew of the controversy over whether Hank really wrote all those songs.

    It’s sort of funny that the two of them would have brought it up.

  7. badrockandroll
    September 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    So many Hank songs – the weird and wonderful Great Hank by Robert Earl Keen, and another by the Waterboys are two of my favourites. I also like Ry Cooder’s ode to Hank on his “Buddy” album. All three of these, thankfully, rise above namechecks and shoutouts. Would that the current crop of songs that in hailing outlaw Johnny Cash show precious little understanding of that many-facetted man, would do the same.

  8. Ben Foster
    September 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    I’m a big fan of the Emmylou Harris version of “Hank and Lefty.”

  9. Paul W. Dennis
    September 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    “The Death of Hank Williams” by Jack Caldwell, “Hank Drank” by Bobby Lee Springfield and “Here’s To Hank” by Stonewall Jackson are three that come to mind. Caldwell’a was probably the only worthwhile song to atrise during the immediate aftermath of Hank’s death

  10. Andrew
    September 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    “Talkin’ To Hank” by Mark Chesnutt and George Jones

  11. Thomas
    September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    …”midnight in montgomery” is not only one of the best songs about hank williams – it’s among the best country songs ever.

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