Monday, July 5, 2010


Hank Williams won a Pulitzer Prize in April, he was 29 years old when he died, and he was the father of Country music. His 1952 Cadillac was being driven to a gig by a 19-year-old college freshman he'd hired as his chauffeur. The two drove around Montgomery for a while, then Hank got a shot of morphine to ease his aching back for the journey to the gig in Charleston.

Because of a snowstorm they stopped in Birmingham and got a hotel room, several women found their way to Hank's room, and when Hank asked them where they were from one of the girl's told him heaven; to which he replied, “that's the reason I'm going to hell.”

By the time they got to Knoxville it was obvious they wouldn't make the show in Charleston, so they grabbed a plane, but the plane was turned back due to bad weather.

The two got a hotel room, and ordered steaks from room service, after which Hank got hiccups that threw his body into wild convulsions.

They called a doctor and the doctor gave Hank another two shots of morphine mixed with vitamin B12.

They bundled Hank into the back of the car, and sped off to make the gig in Charleston. On the way they were stopped by the Highway Patrol and given a twenty-five dollar fine for speeding.

Hank was dead of course, and probably had been since Knoxville. But that wasn't important anymore, he'd created Country music, and in 67 years the Pulitzer Prize committee would agree that he'd done a great thing.

Country musicians do what they have to do, they play through the pain, and part of playing through the pain is revealing that which makes us hurt. It's not an easy thing to live with, and it's not an easy thing to watch. But Hank never seemed to mind it, as long as it ended up in a song, or some other form of sweet release. 

Hank's last song was called I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, and it was released one month before he died.

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