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Music has always been an integral part of my life. The amount of money I have invested in my CD and record collection would more than likely seem foolish to most. My collection spans many genres including country, western swing, blues, classical, jazz and so on.
Needless to say, I have never limited myself when it comes to music and have a tendency to consider myself a walking music encyclopedia. However, there’s one artist I’ve always held a little above all the rest. A man whose music has stood the test of time and whose songs I am sure will still be heard for years to come.
Jan. 1 marked the 56th anniversary of the passing of Hank Williams, who died in the backseat of a Cadillac on his way to a New Year’s show in Canton, Ohio. He was 29 years old.
Williams, oftentimes referred to as the “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” wrote and sang songs that were simple, yet intricate in the way of conveying emotions. Anyone who sits down and listens to a Hank Williams’ record is liable to experience a whirlwind of feelings in a matter of minutes.
Songs like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Lost Highway” and “Take These Chains From My Heart” have endured in the hearts of many music fanatics including myself.
In the years since Williams’ death, the music industry has come a long way. Albums today, especially those in the country field, are often over-produced with a clean, polished sound. Vocal flubs are fixed instantly with the punch of a few buttons. Steel guitars and fiddles are a rarity.
Although technology wasn’t as sound in the late 1940s and early ’50s, the music of that time far surpasses anything being spun out of Nashville today. But when you listen to Williams, you know you’re getting the real deal. It’s country – music for simple people and those who haven’t forgotten their roots. Williams was the simple man’s prophet.
There is no doubt in my mind that this great singer and poet’s legacy will live on until the end of time. Although Williams passed away at an all-too-early age, what he left us is a lifetime of great music and I expect that it will be preserved and greatly loved by generations to come.