Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hank´s alter ego

Hank Williams is unanimously recognized as a true American icon, the father of country music as we know it today. Hank is often said to have been the first rock ´n´ roller too, thanks to his hard drinking, pill popping lifestyle which would ultimately kill him at the age of 29 in the back of his ´52 Cadillac, on the way to a gig in Canton, Ohio.

It´s lesser known that ole Hank also recorded under the pseudonym of Luke The Drifter, which gave him the chance to be the exact opposite of his larger than life public persona. Where Hank was the Grand Ole Opry star with the wild reputation, Luke was righteous, religious, wise and moralistic. Now Williams simply couldn´t release these specific songs under his own name. Jukebox operators, who were very important for record sales in those days, serviced bars and saloons and didn´t want their customers - aiming for a soundtrack for a good time - punching up a Hank Williams record and getting a sermon instead of a honky tonkin´ country song. So either Hank himself or his legendary producer Fred Rose invented the alter ego Luke The Drifter.

And boy, did Luke record some great stuff. More narrations or even sermons than actual songs, it´s hard to believe this is a guy still in his twenties talking. On Men With Broken Hearts Hank reportedly said "Ain´t that the awfulest, morbidest song you ever heard in your life?" and he may just have been right. "Some lose faith in love and life when sorrow shoots her darts, and with hope all gone they walk alone, these men with broken hearts..." The Funeral may not sound very politically correct to modern ears, but it´s still the tearjerker to end all tearjerkers. The legend goes both Hank and his steel guitarist Don Helms had tears in their eyes by the time they were through recording it... So get your hankies ready and buy Hank´s complete Luke The Drifter-output on the cd Beyond The Sunset (Mercury records).

Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter - Pictures From Life´s Other Side MP3
Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter - Too Many Parties And Too Many Pals MP3
Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter - The Funeral MP3
Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter - Beyond The Sunset MP3
Hank Williams as Luke The Drifter - Men With Broken Hearts MP3


Paul said...

Great write up!

tired said...

god bless reissues, but look at the original cover! (i assume your pic is the original). nice. i'd sure like to track down that LP.