Authoritative voices have a presence we all recognize. When someone is an expert on a subject, a real expert, people quiet down and listen. If someone with less experience or knowledge repeated the words of an authority, their voice just wouldn’t ring true and no one in the room would turn round to listen.
Hank Williams had such a voice. It’s too high and tinny and without any bass. Still, it is overwhelmingly powerful, not as Pavarotti could punch out a song, but powerful in authority and believability. You can’t duplicate this unless you’ve lived a life. Lived a life hard.
As I’ve written before (internal link), 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. He was 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.
Here, Hank brings to life a tough song written by Leon Payne.
Thank you, Hank. And Rest In Peace.