Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams

Lovesick Blues The Life of Hank Williams Hank Williams the quintessential country music singer and songwriter died alone in the backseat of his Cadillac on New Year s Day He died much as he had lived drunk forlorn suffering from a

  • Title: Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams
  • Author: Paul Hemphill
  • ISBN: 9780670034147
  • Page: 143
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Hank Williams, the quintessential country music singer and songwriter, died alone in the backseat of his Cadillac on New Year s Day, 1953 He died much as he had lived drunk, forlorn, suffering from a birth defect, wondering when the bubble would burst Having sprouted out of nowhere, like a weed in the wilds of south Alabama, he was gone at the age of twenty nine Now,Hank Williams, the quintessential country music singer and songwriter, died alone in the backseat of his Cadillac on New Year s Day, 1953 He died much as he had lived drunk, forlorn, suffering from a birth defect, wondering when the bubble would burst Having sprouted out of nowhere, like a weed in the wilds of south Alabama, he was gone at the age of twenty nine Now, with his definitive biography of the man and his music, Paul Hemphill takes the reader on a journey through Hank Williams s life and times his dirt poor beginnings as a sickly child, learning music from a black street singer, refining it in raucous rural honky tonks during the Depression, emerging as a star of the Grand Ole Opry Uneducated, virtually fatherless, an alcoholic in his teens, unlucky at love, Hank mined his experiences to write songs that will live forever Hemphill, author of The Nashville Sound and the son of a long distance trucker from Alabama, brings his background to bear on a story that often reads like fiction He has unearthed many fresh details in Williams s life, but most importantly, he has explained that life and given it the lively telling it deserves.

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    1 thought on “Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams”

    1. Taking the backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium (the Mother Church of Country Music) in Nashville last summer, 2015, I, along with a gaggle of fellow tourists were crowded into the small green room where Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr and countless other legends prepped and relaxed before those storied performances. The little room had a real atmosphere, the kind that even an agnostic might find palpable enough to include the presence of ghosts. The tour guide was a marvelous, chatty, old bird [...]

    2. I was hoping for a good book on the life of one of the great artists; happily I got so much more.What makes this book work so well is the author's understanding and personal attachment, not just to Hank, but the world that Hank came from; the waitresses and truck drivers that made up his core audience. He was old enough to have been a fan eagerly awaiting a new song or huddled around the radio to listen to him play the Opry; young enough to have been able to drift away from him and then return, [...]

    3. For me, this was too career oriented. I wanted a more intimate look at Hank Williams. It was all very matter-of-fact. It was interesting, but I find myself wanting to pick up another book about Hank in order to fill in the gaps.

    4. In times gone by the early night sky gazers looked at the stars and thought they were distant camp fires, or souls of ancestors. Comets or hairy stars, on the other hand, were not so benign. Flashing, transcient, unpredictable and scary things.Up in the skies of the planet Poptastic, even more so here in the 21st century, are beset copious twinkling heavenly bodies manufactured in a galaxy of mediocrity. Hank Williams was a blazing comet.'Lovesick Blues' by Paul Hemphill, published 2005, documen [...]

    5. Most of this book's detractors make the same argument - that it's a book that didn't need to be written. After all, Colin Escott already wrote the definitive biography on Hank Williams. What's more, Escott based his book mostly on original research, interviewing virtually everyone who ever knew Hank Williams. Hemphill admittedly based his work mostly on Escott's biography, as well as a few other published sources. But his book is still a worthwhile, shorter, biography of the king of country musi [...]

    6. Paul Hemphill put in a lot of time and research to write this book. I am not really a true country music fan, but because country music is in part the history of the US working class, it's an important book for me to read (and of course, I love memoirs and biographies in general).Williams grew up during the Depression. Whereas some who would be music stars gave up a great deal for their shot at fame, Williams had nothing to lose. His father had departed, and his mother was a bully and a user who [...]

    7. A good short biography that hits the points of Williams life and career. Well written by Hemphill with very interesting interaction of his life and William's career.

    8. This book is not a full biography -- there's no index, no bibliography, no photos, and it's only 207 pages long -- but as a biographical sketch it gave me a good understanding of and feel for Hank Williams's short and tragic life, and a solid appreciation for his seminal place in American musical history. In a 5-year recording career, which ended with his death at age 29, Williams recorded 66 songs, most of which he wrote himself and 37 of which made the Billboard charts. Ten of his songs went t [...]

    9. I choose to read this book because I like country music. Although, I didn't know it would be such a sad story. This story has a lot to do with the beginning of country music. Hank Williams was one of the people who started country music and was even turned away from the Grand Ole Opry. He died at a young age, however his son Hank Williams Junior carries on for all of us today. Hank Williams had a poor up bringing and a rough childhood, along with spina bifida. Due to the pain caused from his bac [...]

    10. Short to-the-point biography matches its subject, who started drinking at 13 and didn't stop until he'd drunk himself to death at 29, after a brief career turning out the greatest country music songs then and since. Such a sad mess.His parents were divorced early, ending a violent relationship dominated by a large angry Lillie Williams, who stage-mothered the young Hiram ("Harm" in the South Alabama dialect, self-renamed Hank as a teenager) when she wasn't berating him for his drinking or ignori [...]

    11. A short sad book about a short sad life. Hank doesn't come across as a very likeable person in this biography; I suspect there was more to him but this is focused on the trainwreck aspects of his personality. Apparently Hank maintained absolute discipline and confidence only in the recording studio. His producer/collaborator Fred Rose (of Acuff-Rose) had been a player and composer in the 1920s Chicago jazz scene - interesting background for someone who had such an impact on country music. Rose a [...]

    12. Not knowing a great deal of the man or origin of his music it was time to get to know about Hank Williams and I'm glad I chose this book to make the acquaintance. I was initially surprised at how small the book was, but Paul Hemphill was able to pack the full life of this legendary man, spanning the 29 years quite well and credibly. Hemphill's roots are enough to make you believe he was someone the rode along with Hank on his raucous journey through life.Most from my generation know little about [...]

    13. This book had the privilege of being my 80th of the year, which means I met my reading goal. Yay.I've always wanted to know more about Hank Williams, a music legend who looms large in history, a bit like my all-time favouriote Robert Johnson, who also died young. In Hank's case I don't think there's anyone, maybe aside from Chet Baker, who deserves the description "tortured genius" more. Williams literally drank himself to death aged just 28. He left a legacy of songs though that still get regul [...]

    14. This is a first rate, fast read, biography of one of the greatest Country Music talents that ever lived. Well told and honest, it's a sad tale. It begs the question that how far Hank Williams could have gone had he not been such a tormented soul. I've gone back and listened to his music with a fresh ear after reading this. There is no doubt that he was a man of immense talent that poured his heart into his music. Hemphill captures many aspects of his life that were previously unknown to me, His [...]

    15. It's truly amazing that Hank's big-time career only lasted a mere 3 years, seven months until he died at the age of 29. He sold 10 million records during a time (early 1950s) where there was no record distribution to speak of, just selling records at shows and to businesses owning jukeboxes. Paul Hemphill makes comparisons to Hank and Hemingway in the way that they were both minimalists in their writing. It's just that Hemingway was probably more aware of the literary device while Hank just wrot [...]

    16. This was a really fascinating read on a fella that I didn't know much about prior-- but he certainly casts a long and lasting shadow over country music and the industry in general. He truly is a tragic figure, one that overcame incredible odds to be a wild success. Later, he became the archetype of the showbiz star who lost his moorings and was overcome by that success, leading to his undoing. Hemphill writes in such a way that puts you in the studio, in the backseat, in the honky tonks and livi [...]

    17. Hank Williams had a rough life, man. His talent for songwriting and his high loansome moan are the most important and lasting legacy of his life and there's ample evidence in his recordings. His life, though, is interesting and tragic and Paul Hemphill has succeeded in giving a consice and fairly intimate introduction to Williams. The triumphs and every tragedy after tragedy are here, up to Williams' cold, lonely death on a West Virginia highway. Lovesick Blues is full of good stories and worth [...]

    18. Overall, I liked it. (I hope no one reading this book is unaware that Hank died young, because the author doesn't pull any spoiler punches. Oh, did I ruin that for you? Yep, Hank gave it up at 29.) Also, although I really liked the anecdotal style of most of the book, I think Hemphill has a little trouble doing explanatory bitsere were chunks I had to reread more than once to figure out where in time he was putting us. And, I give him credit for making Hank the complicated figure he was - no sug [...]

    19. I approached Lovesick Blues like I approached the PBS series "The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson": I rode along for the rise, and then bowed out before the fall. I didn't know much about Hank Williams, which was an appalling state of affairs as I began writing a dissertation chapter about hillbilly music, so I listened to the first third of the book through my local library's online audio collection. I probably would have finished it, but the days got longer and I began itching for the great outd [...]

    20. This slim volume is rich in evocative language and gets at the importance of Hank's songwriting genius. I can't think of any other songwriter more quoted, covered, or revered by artists I adore than Hank. His singing is so full of longing and misery, and his deceptively simple imagery is so brilliant that I can't ever forget it. Hemphill's love for Hank is tempered by the needless waste if his brief life, and I loved finding out how his incredible songs came about. Astonishingly good.

    21. Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Paul Hemphill (Viking Adult 2005)(780.92). He has been called “The Quintessential Country Singer.” He came roaring out of the wilds of Alabama and was gone at twenty-nine like a barn fire. On New Year’s Eve 1953, he died alone in the back of a Cadillac after having “received medical attention” at the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee. This bio fits the subject nicely. My rating: 7/10, finished 2006.

    22. I read this book right before Paul Hemphill came to my library to promote this book. The book captures the spirit of Hank--how he grew up in Georgiana and then later made his way to Montgomery. He also pointed out things I hadn't thought about--that back then there were no tour buses or other accoutrements--you just traveled hours and hours in a car. I also liked how Hank's wife wanted to sing but that she had a terrible voice. If you're ever in Montgomery, you should stop by his gravesite.

    23. Talk about an upbeat book to read right before Thanksgiving! This biography of Hank Williams details all the troubles the singer had w/ drink, pills and women as he lived his short life. He wrote some amazing music that Hemphill ties into his lifestyle or personal life w/ all his addictions and behavior. I didn't know much about his upbringing or start out in country music so this was a good introduction to the man and that era of radio/country music and what it was like to be a musician.

    24. This is a short biography of Hank Williams (sadly, his life didn't last long enough for a longer biography). I thought that Hemphill did a great job telling the story of Williams' sad life, but my favorite chapter is the first, in which Hemphill describes a trip he took with his father, who was a trucker. The story of that trip (within which Williams' music played a key role) is quite vivid and evocative.

    25. I have read a couple of Hank Biographies. This one is my favorite because you feel the authors admiration for Hank in the pages. In the beginning he talks about hisdiscovery of Hank Williams as a boy riding along with his dad in a freight truck. My discovery of Hank was a little different but none the less every bit as important and life changing as his own. The book is very insightful without making you feel like your reading a textbook.

    26. Pretty good insights into Hank's life.Like many famous people's biographies, it gets more interesting as time goes on.Would I read it again? Probably not.Would I recommend it? Yes, but only to true fans.I would say there was not much to take away, sans the story itself.I usually enjoy biographies because I get a lot out of them for my own life. In this case, I did not. I don't know if its merited to the author or Hank himself, but thats the way it is.

    27. This book completely changed the glamorous idea of Hank Williams that I had Conjured up in my mind. Paul Hemphill's Book Revealed Hank Williams to be a troubled young man who was rocketed to stardom, Plagued by insecurity, addiction, And the opposite sex. Hanks is definitely a life worth reading And this book is where you should start.

    28. Author Paul Hemphill's reminiscenses about listening to Hank Williams on his father's truck radio and narrator Jonathan Hogan's natural sounding down-homey drawl gave this biography a personal touch that made it seem like it was written by someone who knew Hank well. I downloaded the mp3 album Country Music Legend and listened to the tracks along with the audiobook. What a great mix!

    29. I really enjoyed this. I knew nothing about Hank Williams other than having heard his songs played by others over the years. It is pretty amazing - he was so prolific and was really on the music scene for only about 5 years before his death in 1953. The book sent me to the library to listen to his greatest hits.

    30. Sad story. Such a talented man to have died at 29. If you are familiar with his music, his lyrics told the story of his life with Audrey. The book revealed medical issues which lead to drinking and meds that eventually ended his life in the back of a Cadillac. He was the Elvis before Elvis. Women adored him. I enjoyed this book.

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