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Hank Williams
Country Music's Tragic King
By Jay Caress
Stein & Day
1979
253 Pages
ISBN:  0-8128-2583-7

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Few will deny that during his lifetime Hank williams had the strongest claim to the title "Greatest Figure in Country Music." More phenomenal, that title is still valid today, although hank died in 1953. One critic says that "Willams' music and popularity have outlived him in a manner unparalled in country music and perhaps in all of American popular culture; his were the first songs firmly to bridge the gulf between country and pop music. . . .[And he was] almost certainly country music's greatest songwriter."

Mitch Miller ranks Hank with Stephen Foster and says "He had a way of reaching your guts and your head at the same time. No matter who you were a country person or a sophisticate, the language hit home. Nobody I knew could use Englis so effectively. Every song socks you in the gut."

This life story of America's greatest country music talent evokes not only the man, but a feeling for his era—the late 1940s and early '50s in the South.

From an Alabama farmtown to the Grand Ole Opry and his subsequent plunge from the heights of glory, this privileged biography draws on eyewitness testimony of friends and associates, laying bare more than has ever been told of Hank Williams' personal and professional life—his upbringing, his marriages, his artistry, his alcoholism, his tortured soul. Through the red-neck honky-tonks of deepest Dixie to the top of the charts with songs like "Lovesick Blues", "Your Cheatin' Heart", I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", "I Saw The Light", "Jambalaya", "Cold, Cold Heart", "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle", "Half As Much", "I Wish I Had A Nickel", "I Can't Get You Off My Mind", "Take These Chains From My Heart", and more; Jay Caress has shadowed the once, present and future King of Country Music. Here are new insights from those who knew Hank in Montgomery, Shreveport, and Nashville and a never-before-published detailed account of the night Hank Williams died, events which have been shrouded in mystery for a quarter of a century.

"Today in an industry built around stars, Hank still shines brightest."
—Nick Tosches
  • Jay Caress has been a country music disc jockey for a Louisville radio station, and asa professional singer has appeared in clubs and concerts. He's even made a couple of records. A former book editor, too, for a Midwest religious publishing house, Jay was born in New Albany, Indiana and now lives in Rockford, Illinois.