Did Hank Williams really die at age 29?
I'm not suggesting an "Elvis lives"-type conspiracy theory, I'm just incredulous that someone with so few years on the planet could have had such an immense influence on country music. Oh, I'm familiar with the so-called "27 Club" -- musicians who, with two fewer years in which to amass a body of work, still managed to leave behind important musical legacies. But, with all due respect to Jimi, Janis, Jim, and Kurt, Williams had 11 number one hits in his foreshortened career, a remarkable feat. Even more remarkable is the number of other musicians, from all genres (and including several members of the "27 Club"), who have released recordings of these songs.
And let us not forget the musical progeny. Joplin and Morrison died childless, Jimi's "love children" have spent more time trying (unsuccessfully) to get a piece of his estate than playing music, and Frances Bean Cobain hasn't shown any sign of following in Daddy's footsteps. Williams, on the other hand, spawned Randall Hank Williams (AKA Hank Williams, Jr.) who has had over 100 singles chart on the US Country Chart, including covers of several of his father's hits. Hank Williams III (who looks enough like his grandfather to frighten a few old-timers), whose style fluctuates between punk, country and metal, has double-digit country chart numbers as well.
The following is just a sampling of Hank Williams, Sr. songs that have been covered by notable artists.:
"Cold, Cold Heart, 1951
Covered by: Tony Bennet, Louis Armstrong, Petula Clark, Gene Autrey, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Bill Haley & His Comets, Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Washington, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Ronnie Hawkins, George Jones, David Allan Coe, Jerry Lee Lewis, Freddy Fender (as "Tu Frio Corazon"), and more.
I love this cover by Norah Jones, possibly even more than the original.
Source: YouTube Nora Jones - Cold Cold Heart, 2007
"Hey, Good Lookin',"1951
Covered by a whole lot of people, especially these guys, who were having way too much fun at the 2004 CMA Awards®. With Jimmy Buffett, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith & George Strait, and more.
Source: YouTube - Jimmy Buffett & Friends - Hey Good Lookin' CMA 2004
"Why Don't You Love Me," 1950
Covered by: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Connie Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Morrison and more. Perhaps not as well covered as some of the others, but I had to include it because the Red Hot Chili Peppers version is so completely off the wall.
"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)," 1952
Covered by: Jo Stafford, Mitch Miller, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Pride, Jimmy Buffett, Jeff Healey Emmylou Harris, John Fogerty, The Muppets, Brenda Lee, Harry Connick, Jr., Lucinda Williams, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Andy Kaufman, The White Stripes, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, Hunter Hayes, and many more.
I wonder if John Fogerty will include this the set list for his 2014 tour. I hope so!
Source: YouTube - John Fogerty - Jambalaya 2009
"Your Cheatin' Heart," 1952
Covered by: Frankie Lane, Ray Charles, James Brown, Nat King Cole, Van Morrison, Patsy Cline, Del Shannon, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, LeAnn Rimes, The The, Hank Williams, Jr., Jennifer Nettles, Kelly Clarkson, Dean Martin, and many, many, MANY more.
I listened to so many versions of this -- from punk to reggae -- and liked most of them. Darius Rucker keeps it really authentic, but I unfortunately couldn't find a video.
"Lovesick Blues," 1949
Covered by: Slim Whitman, Patsy Cline, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, George Strait, Lee-Ann Rimes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Arlo Guthrie, Don McClean, Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, Alan Jackson and more.
I could have found a video of a currently performing artist doing this song, but, in my mind, no replacement really stands up to the original. Enjoy!