Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our American Culture Thrives

Hank Jr
(2006 mugshot)
Hank Williams, Jr, is a galoot of the first order when it comes to dealing with people (see his court records, not his hit records, and this article) but when it comes to singing and performing country music, he is a talent of the first order.  And I say that, knowing that he and I have huge political differences.  And differing opinions about whether it's nice to choke cocktail waitresses we just met.  (I'm against it.)

Hank Sr
Hank's daddy, Hank Williams, created the style and cut the pattern for much of what we used to call country music.  He was a frail skinny wreck of a guy whose dissolute lifestyle put him in a grave in his native Alabama before he reached 30, but his musical legacy is undisputed.

His son, Randall Hank Williams, was trotted out on stage as soon as he learned to pick and sing a little, billed as "Hank Williams, Jr" and told to go out there and try to remind the folks of daddy and earn his keep that way.  But a funny thing happened, right about the time that people weren't that interested in hearing Hank's hits redone by his son.  Young Hank got into the country rock that started to replace traditional country in the 80s, and he showed himself to be an able performer.

Now, while his dad was alive, the way songwriters demonstrated new songs was to make a record of a simple performance of the song, with minimal backup, on an acetate disc.  Years after HWSr passed away, someone found one of those old acetates of a song called "There's a Tear in my Beer" at a yard sale somewhere in Florida.  The disc had been stored outside for years under a canvas cover.

Next thing you know, someone cleaned up the scratches and pops as well as they could, and they brought Junior into the studio to sing along with the record.  Here is the sound of the original version and here is the video they made of the updated song.  They took one of the two existing films of Hank performing, put a fake mouth on the film to lipsynch with these words, and electronically inserted his son into the video.

You have to understand, in country music terms, this would be like Leonardo da Vinci, Jr. coming along and finishing a painting his father had begun, or Colonel Sanders's son, Sgt. Sanders, coming out with a new way to fill a bucket with fowl.

Hank III

Meanwhile, don't look for Hank Williams III to get involved
with another version of the song, as he is too busy playing with a "metalcore psychobilly" band called Assjack.

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