Hank Williams once said that what distinguished country music singers from other performers was the sincerity with which they sang. They lived their songs on stage and for Hank the music followed the lyrics. It was the words that made the song and many of Hank's songs were descriptions of his own life and the lives of his audiences. Those lives were full of hard work, love, hope, desperation, sorrow and the inevitability of death and resurrection.
Singing was one way of relieving the tedium of living itself. Hank's appeal was that he was singing on behalf of his audience not necessarily to them. As Hank noted, "Mind Your Own Business" was often requested by folks for other folks not for themselves!! Hank had a special ability to sing songs which touch a man's heart in a unique way revealing the male sex's feminine side which few performers have captured before or since.
The first Hank record I ever heard was an old 78 of Lovesick Blues, which it took me some time to appreciate but I was immediately taken by "Wedding Bells" on the reverse side and spent years trying to work out the line "orange tree in your hair". Once I heard George Jones sing it the meaning became clear. The wonderful mix of Victorian parlour ballads, hymns, Appalachian songs and contemporary comments on the world is a superb tribute to Hank.
There's a number of songs I'd never heard including the additional verse to "Pictures From Life's Other Side" which refers to the Korean War. Yet whether the songs were new, old or unfamiliar, it's Hank's unique delivery which makes them what they are. Thanks to the wonders of technology we can still hear the quality of that delivery 56 years after his death. Hank and the Drifting Cowboys have gone but their music will live on as long as country music itself.
I also found the individual descriptions of the songs, their origins and, in some cases original singers, very good in addition to the general history of Hank's all too brief and tragic life. His songs reflected the age in which he lived and the fact that they are still relevant today shows the quality of the writing and the singing. This is a great record of a man whose star shone far too briefly but whose star still shines today. Five stars will never be enough to measure the quality of recording history such as this. Buy it and get it, no matter how long it takes.