Hundreds of songs have been written in tribute to the mythic icon, many of the syrupy variety to which Ol’ Hank himself would likely have been unable to relate. Here’s a short list of some of the best:
"I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight" by Jerry Jeff Walker
Honky-tonker Chris Wall wrote this quintessential song of Hank, with a moody play on words.
I play country when I am in pain
I won’t play Beethoven if the mood’s just not right
I feel like Hank Williams tonight
"29" by Slaid Cleaves
Austin’s own Cleaves never mentions Hank by name in this one. He doesn’t have to. Slaid has that high lonesome sound that they would’ve loved at the old Skyline.
That there’s a reason for your dyin’
Was it for my sins or yours
I think I know but I’m not sure •••••
"Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" by Waylon Jennings
Outlaw Jennings staked his own piece of musical territory with this one, while celebrating the one who first opened the country door.
Son, you finally got it made
Old Hank made it here, we’re all sure that you will
But I don’t think Hank done it this way •••••
"The Great Hank" by Robert Earl Keen
Iconoclastic Keen paints surreal and quirky imagery of a dream about the Great Hank Williams.
I saw the great Hank Williams singing on stage in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania and he was all dressed up in drag
From his rose red lips to his rhinestone hips he belted
out song after song as he drank from a brown paper bag
And the songs he sang of love and pain,
so pure perfect reflections of human imperfections,
it damn near choked me up
But the rest of the show, was kind of slow
And then someone woke me up •••••
"The Night Hank Williams Came to Town" by Johnny Cash
With this song, the world’s greatest country music artist meets the world’s greatest country music artist. You decide which is which.
That was one big event we didn’t see
‘cause no one stayed at home for miles around
It was the night Hank Williams came to town •••••
"Hank Williams Said It Best" by Guy Clark
Clark is a brilliant Texas songwriter, and in this one, he gives credit where it’s due.
For every mother’s son
The only thing the same
Is that it ain’t for everyone
Hank Williams said it best
He said it a long time ago
"Unless you have made no mistakes in your life
Be careful of stones that you throw" •••••
The Car Hank Died In by Austin Lounge Lizards
This is a humorous send-up of obsessive hero worshippers who “want to ride in the car Hank died in.”