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Ken Burns’ New PBS Series on Country Music

Twentieth century American music began and ended with Hank Williams. Apologies to Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley.

I Saw the Light is America’s Amazing Grace. Your Cold, Cold Heart is the best song ever written about unrequited love. It is possibly the _best_ song ever written about love.

PBS is now airing a series on country music produced by famed documentary film maker Ken Burns. Despite narration more fitting the Nuremberg trials, the series shows great promise as a record of a musical and cultural institution unique to America.

The series was extremely fortunate to interview Merle Haggard before his death.

Paul Hemphill recently wrote that, “Country music isn’t really country anymore; it is a hybrid of nearly every form of popular music in America.” Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and groups like Lady Antebellum are now considered, in part, as country. It didn’t used to be that way.

Most country music acts now lack a violin or a fiddle as it is better called, and few have a steel guitar.  Taking those instruments out is like taking out a person’s lung. The patient lives on but true strength and vitality never returns.

Hank lives through his recordings and now in this film, the most painfully honest song writer who ever penned a verse. He sang Gospel as a true believer. He set millions to joyous dancing with a voice and lyrics relatable to everyone. He expressed sorrows we all feel but can’t articulate or won’t admit.

He also wallowed in self-pity and endlessly resented and loved his wife whom he married twice. He let drugs and drink kill him at 29.

Thank you, Hank. And Rest In Peace.

You Win Again

by Hank Williams

The news is out, all over town
That you’ve been seen, a-runnin’ ’round
I know that I should leave, but then
I just can’t go, you win again

This heart of mine, could never see
What everybody knew but me
Just trusting you was my great sin
What can I do, you win again

I’m sorry for your victim now
‘Cause soon his head, like mine will bow
He’ll give his heart, but all in vain
And someday say, you win again

You have no heart, you have no shame
You take true love, and give the blame
I guess that I, should not complain
I love you still, you win again

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By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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