Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hank Williams Lost Notebooks

If I didn't know better, I'd think Hank Williams Sr. was gearing up for a reunion tour. Last month saw the release of a 3 CD set of his earliest recordings. Now this month comes news of the release of The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. When Hank died in 1953 at the age of 29, he left behind a scuffed brown, leather briefcase full of notebooks that included songs, half written songs, and song ideas. Somehow A&R executive Mary Martin ended up with the notebooks and approached Bob Dylan to produce an album of the material similar to the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue where Billy Bragg and Wilco put newly discovered Woody Guthrie lyrics to music as a heartfelt tribute to the pioneer of Folk music. Eventually, the Hank Williams lyrics were dispersed to 13 different artists to put their own take on the Country music icon's words. As Michael McCall observes in the liner notes, "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."
Here are the songs and artists on this tribute to the unrealized potential of Hank Williams Sr. (I just wish Hank would have had the chance to record them himself.):
Alan Jackson "You've Been Lonesome, Too"
Bob Dylan "The Love That Faded"
Norah Jones "How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart?"
Jack White "You Know That I Know"
Lucinda Williams "I'm So Happy I Found You"
Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell "I Hope You Shed a Million Tears"
Patty Loveless "You're Through Fooling Me"
Levon Helm "You'll Never Again Be Mine"
Holly Williams "Blue Is My Heart"
Jakob Dylan "Oh, Mama, Come Home"
Sheryl Crow "Angel Mine"
Merle Haggard "The Sermon on the Mount"

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