Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Hank Williams

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Based on “Gran Prairie” by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers (1940).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #20/C&W #1 1952), Jo Stafford (US #3 1952), Fats Domino (US #30 1961), Blue Ridge Rangers (#16 1973), The Carpenters (UK #12 1974).

From the wiki: “The melody of ‘Jambalaya’ is based on the Cajun song ‘Gran Prairie’, first recorded in 1940 by Happy Fats & His Rayne-Bo Ramblers. While ‘Gran Prairie’ is a song about a lost love, the lyrics written by Hank Williams for ‘Jambalaya’ are about life, parties and stereotypical Cajun foods. Released in July 1952, crediting Williams as the sole author (there is some dispute, whether the lyrics were co-written with Moon Mullican), it reached #1 on the US Country music charts and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks. Jo Stafford’s cover peaked at #3 on the Pop music charts, further popularizing the song. Other popular recordings were later charted by Fats Domino, and Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty). The Carpenters released their 1974 recording of ‘Jambalaya’ as an overseas single, with chart success in the UK, Japan, Mexico, Holland and Germany.”

Cold, Cold Heart

Written and first recorded by Hank Williams (C&W #1 1951).
Other hit versions by Dinah Washington (R&B #3 1951), Tony Bennett (US #1 1951).

From the wiki: “Hank Williams wrote ‘Cold Cold Heart’ after visiting his wife, Audrey, in the hospital where she was recovering from an illegal abortion. The flowers he brought her were thrown back in his face. ‘You sorry son of a bitch,’ she is claimed to have said. ‘It was you that caused me to suffer this.’ Hank went home and said his wife had a ‘cold, cold heart.’ Audrey shut him out of her life, and filed for divorce on January 10, 1952. The melody to ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ was taken from ‘You’ll Still Be In My Heart’ (1945), by T. Texas Tyler (who also wrote ‘My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It’). The copyright case was settled out-of-court, after Hank’s passing, in 1955. Dinah Washington and Tony Bennett both recorded adaptations of ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ in 1951, helping Country music out of its rural isolation with additional success on both the R&B and Pop charts.”

Lovesick Blues

First recorded (as “I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues”) by Elsie Clark (1922).
Also recorded by Jack Shea (1922), Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers (1928), Rex Griffin (1939).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #24/C&W #1 1949), Frank Ifield (US #44/UK #1 1962).

From the wiki: “First published as ‘I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues’ and introduced by Vaudeville singer Anna Chandler in the musical Oh, Ernest, ‘Lovesick Blues’ was first recorded by Elsie Clark in a March 1922 for OKeh Records and covered by Jack Shea for Vocalion Records later the same year. In 1928It was covered by Emmet Miller in 1928 (accompanied by his ‘Georgia Crackers’, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, and Leo McConville) and, in 1939, by Country singer Rex Griffin.

“The recordings by Miller and Griffin would inspire Hank Williams to perform the song during his first appearances on The Louisiana Hayride in 1948. Receiving an enthusiastic reception by the audience, Williams decided to record his own version despite an initial push-back from his producer Fred Rose and his band. Williams’ recording would go on to become one of the biggest Country hits ever – spending 16 weeks at #1 in 1949. Co-writer Irving Mills also wrote ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Caravan‘ in partnership with Duke Ellington. The other co-author, Cliff Friend, sold his share for $500 during the Depression.”

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