Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Hank Williams

Meet the newest recipient of a special Pulitzer Prize citation. Damn right. I love this music. It reminds me of my Great-Granpa Frank and Granma Rosella, who'd be frankly tickled to hear Hank Williams won a Pulitzer.

Plus: Special bonus cameos by June and Anita Carter! (Also, Stealth!Roy Acuff. Thanks for pointing that out, Suburbancowboy.)

(Tip of the—wide-brimmed, natch—hat to Greg Mitchell for finding this footage. Fabbo!)


  1. That’s “plumb tickled”. “I’m just plumb tickled that June Carter appears on the video!” Like that.

    Thanks for a great post! I love the music too!

  2. Any love for Hank is good by me. Kathleen Parker’s receiving one for being vaguely racist about the then-future President? Do not like.

  3. Quick fact:

    Hank Williams Sr. Died of a massive heart attack at the age of 29. He was found in the back seat of his cadillac.

    1. I’ll do you one better: That Caddy left the James K. Polk Hotel, Knoxville TN with Hank still alive in the back. He died en route, and the autopsy revealed he was on that dope. Super sad, but definitely a rockstar move. The Polk building–now owned by the city–is significant to me because back in the 90s, that’s where I had to report in with my P.O. every month.

      I’m happy that Hank is getting his due, but I’m somewhat troubled by this “special pulitzer.” since when did a respected award cherry-pick the best of the past? If the committee cannot recognize greatness in its time, then doesn’t that undermine the award’s validity? What’s next? the MacArthur grant awarded to the estate of Van Gogh? who cares? Seems more like a PR move by the Pulitzer committee. troubling indeed.

  4. Favorite things about Hank:

    1. The clothes! People hear his music and picture a broke-down hillbilly, but he was the height of suavity and awesomeness in his time.

    2. Possibly the first rock star: lived hard, wrote some great music, died young and alone and broke and in his car, burnt out from his hard life. Not to mention that “Move It On Over” IS the spirit of rock and roll.

  5. People either “get” HW, or they don’t.

    Example: a biographer pointed out that “politically correct” critics said that HW exploited Cajun culture when he recorded “Jambalaya.” The reader was instructed to note Hank’s reception by actual Cajuns when he played bars, or the Louisiana Hayride show. I believe “ape-sh!t” would be a good descriptor. They loved him…Hank touched people in a way most modern performers can only dream about.

  6. I am amazed that the sound quality is so good as compared to the images.

    Silent films had a long head start on talkies, but once sound recording arrived, it’s quality and apparent durability quickly surpassed that of film.

    Thanks for a glimpse at this true hall of famer.

    1. kpkpkp…In this instance, you are seeing the difference between a relatively new medium (broadcast television) vs. a very mature medium (recorded sound) The image in this recording is most likely a kinescope, which is a film recording of a video image. At its most basic in early television, they would literally point a synchronized film camera at a video monitor. The result is usually quite worse than the original video image. The sound, of course, has no such transfer issues.

  7. Well, it’s about danged time ol’ Hank got hisself a Wurlitzer Prize!

    The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville has his original handwritten manuscript for “I Saw the Light” on display. It’s like Country Music’s Dead Sea Scrolls… just seeing it was a religious experience.

  8. My grandmother was a huge Hank Williams fan and used to sing his songs to me when I was growing up. Even now, his songs are pretty much the only country music on my iPod unless you count alt-country acts like The Old 97’s.

    One story my grandmother told me (that I can’t find substantiation for after a quick web search) was that he made a bet with someone that he could write a #1 hit song on the spot in less than an hour (reminds me of Harlan Ellison writing in a shop window). The cafe or bar where they were sitting was across the street from a cigar store with a wooden cigar store Indian, so he wrote “Kaw Liga” while sitting at the table and it did indeed stay at #1 on the country charts for 14 weeks, but posthumously. The flipside of the singe was “Your Cheatin’ Heart” – my grandmother’s favorite song…

  9. Thinking of the “other two Hanks”, I thought of Hank Snow and Hank Thompson first, Junior and Hank the 3rd second.

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