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The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams CD

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams
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Audio CD, CD, 3 Oct 2011
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Oct. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Sony CMG
  • ASIN: B005F23NMK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  Vinyl |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,756 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product Description

The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams is and album of previously unrecorded Hank Williams lyrics set to music and performed for the first time by Bob Dylan, Jack White, Norah Jones, Alan Jackson and other artists.
The second title ever to be released on Egyptian (the first was 1997's The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers - A Tribute Album), The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams is a long-awaited collection of previously unrecorded Hank Williams lyrics newly set to music and performed for the first time as completed songs by a roster of artists with a musical and spiritual kinship to the archetypal American country music singer-songwriter. Created from writings left behind by country music's "lovesick blues boy," The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams collates the first-ever performances of 12 previously unheard Hank Williams lyric compositions newly set to music by 13 artists whose own sensibilities have been profoundly shaped by Williams. The project began with the idea of finding a well-known artist, one who felt Hank's inspiration and influence, to record an album's worth of the unheard songs. After veteran music industry manager/A&R executive Mary Martin approached Bob Dylan, a natural first choice for the endeavor, the project evolved into a multi-artist tribute providing a variety of sympathetic approaches to this rich mysterious material.
From heartbreak to honky-tonking, from Jesus to gin mills, Hank Williams wrote about life's deepest truths and sang with an ethereal authority on such unforgettable songs as "Your Cheatin' Heart," "I Saw the Light," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Cold, Cold Heart" and many more. When Hank Williams died, at the age of 29, in the back of his Cadillac sometime early morning on New Year's Day 1953, he left behind a scuffed, embroidered brown leather briefcase, which he used to carry bound notebooks, among other items, darkening their pages with lyrics and song ideas. Some were fully finished, some just started. The odyssey of Hank Williams' notebooks is recounted in the album's liner notes, penned by Michael McCall from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, who observes, "The history of Hank's notebooks is as complex as the legend himself. Yet, in the end, what matters most are the songs, and these new works rise from the ether with ghostly relevance. As with his many standards, these new recordings tap straight into the soul of man. This is songwriting at its most artful and most powerful."

BBC Review

Hank Williams was just 29 when he died on New Year's Day 1953, having already composed the songbook which stands, surely forever, as the benchmark by which country music is judged. The career Williams didn't have, the one in which further age and experience would have lent still greater depths to both his wracked voice and exquisitely mournful songs, is a truly heartbreaking what-if?

The Lost Notebooks is a partial answer to that question. These dozen tracks are effectively collaborations between Williams and some of the uncountable modern artists inspired by him. Each song is an unrecorded lyric salvaged from Williams' notebooks, set to music by one of his spiritual - or, in the case of granddaughter Holly Williams, actual - descendents. Perhaps inevitably, the overall tone is reverent, verging on precious - everyone adheres faithfully to Williams' template of rugged three-chord structures, twanging guitars, weeping violins and keening pedal steel.

Bob Dylan splutters winningly through the sprightly waltz of The Love That Faded, while his son Jakob offers a more polished reading of Oh, Mama, Come Home. Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell duet on the fabulously bitter I Hope You Shed a Million Tears. Jack White gets his punky Detroit snarl at least halfway to Williams' Alabama drawl on You Know That I Know. Norah Jones - who has previously covered Williams to fine effect - rather steals the show with How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart?. Merle Haggard brings proceedings to an appropriately sombre conclusion with the beautiful, understated The Sermon on the Mount.

It might have been indeed fitting for a dash of iconoclasm to have been stirred into the mix - perhaps from Williams' splendidly ornery grandson, Hank Williams III, who has expressed reservations about the project. In the main, however, this is a deserved and haunting evocation of the merest fraction of what might have been.

--Andrew Mueller

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on 28 December 2015
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on 21 October 2011
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