The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History….Song #202: Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams Sr. (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #202: Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams Sr.

One of the interesting things, for me, about writing these posts is the wide swath of musical history we are ending up covering. I am enjoying learning about those who blazed new trails in their chosen genres. These types of songs……the ones that were the first to employ certain instruments in a defined way…..or the songs that first used a certain style of singing that had never been done before and then, ended up being held up as examples of how others could create music the same way, going forward, well, those pioneering songs have a name and that name is a “standard”. Standards are songs that contained something unique that caused people to sit up and take notice. It was a sound that captured the imagination of others and helped define that new genre going forward. When it comes to Country music, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams Sr. is known as a standard.

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” was written by Hank Williams in the early 1940s. He wrote it as he drove a car; dictating the lyrics to a song about his first wife, as his soon-to-be second wife took notes. Hank Williams Sr. wrote many songs that carried a tear-in-my-beer sentimentality such as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Take These Chains From My Heart”, “I’m A Long Gone Daddy”, “Mansion On The Hill”, “Hey Good Lookin'”, “Honky Tonk Blues” and many others. In all, he scored eleven #1 hits on the Country Music charts. Along with Ernest Tubbs and Roy Acuff, to name but a few, Williams became a star just as WWII was ending and folks were returning to their lives and searching for pleasure via the radio. As such, although the foundation of Country music stretches back over the centuries (with Bluegrass, Dixie and even, the Blues), it was the emergence of the likes of Hank Williams Sr, after the War, that kickstarted the new style of Country and ended up becoming the standard sound that all who followed tried to emulate.

Despite his stardom (much of which came after his death), Hank Williams Sr. lived a hard life. He was born with a back condition known as Spina Bifida, which caused him to experience severe back pain if he walked or stood too long. Consequently, if you look closely at many of the still photographs of Williams, you will see that he is leaning against a stool, in order to take the strain off of his back. Williams certainly could walk and it was good for his image to be seen moving about stages, like the one at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, he just couldn’t move about for very long before he would need the support of his stool. As a result of his back condition, he was prescribed painkillers, to which he became addicted. Couple that with a love for alcohol and you have the recipe for a man who became an addict, in every sense of the word. During his lifetime, Williams was fired from more paying gigs than most entertainers every had in their careers, simply due to the unpredictability of his ability to perform on time and in a coherent manner. Hank Williams Sr. is one of those people who, if he hadn’t died tragically at age 29 from congestive heart failure, in the back seat of a car he was being driven in, during a snowstorm…..well, he probably would have drank himself into oblivion anyway. But, he died at the height of his fame and, as is often the case when that happens, people rallied around Williams and his career; clamouring for more, while playing his songs on repeat, crying in their own beer, all the while. In the process, the legend of Hank Williams Sr. was born.

It is very true that Williams helped to usher in a new style of song in the Country Music genre and is forever credited with his pioneering efforts. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is played, even today, close to eighty years after it was released. It still is as respected and venerated today, as it was when it became the new standard in Country Music in the 1940s. Hank Williams Sr. was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, too. In fact, his song, “Move It On Over” is credited with being one of the earliest songs to contain, what came to be known, as the “Rock n’ Roll beat”. Hank Williams Sr. packed a lot into his short career and will always be remembered with fondness by Music fans.

So, without further delay, here is “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by the late, great Hank Williams Sr. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by hank Williams Sr., can be found here.

The link to the official website for Hank Williams Sr., can be found here.

The link to the official website of The Grand Ole Opry, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

3 thoughts on “The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History….Song #202: Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams Sr. (RS)”

  1. I see it took me almost a year to get here. And I came because the button on today’s post directing people here was not working on my tablet, so I had to hand search. Took over an hour, lol. But I got here, and thank you. Hank Williams Sr. is the first singer I ever remember hearing on the radio as a child. For me, the Radio meant Sunday nights, listening to radio dramas of the day. I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, and television was a long way from taking over the minds of the masses. Radio was where it was at, but our father only allowed it to be on Saturday night for Hockey Night in Canada, and Sunday night for certain shows I cannot remember the names of. My only real memory was at the start of one show was the sound of a huge book being opened, and at the end the huge book being closed. Then he would turn the rzaio off till the next hockey game.
    But one night he fell asleep and the radio continued to play, and after some uninteresting commercial came music. Hank Williams was singing Your Cheatin Heart, Cold Cold Heart, and Kawliga! The first two songs were okay, but at that age over my head. But my ears perked up for Kawliga. The story drew me in, and I loved listening to music ever since. After Kawliga HWSr kept on singing other songs, but all I was hearing in my head were the words to Kawliga, which I can still remember to this day.

    1. I am a generation later than you. Television was just beginning when I was young. I remember being allowed to stay up until the first period was over and then having to go to bed on Saturday nights. The games started an hour later on the east coast so staying up until nine o’clock as a five year old was truly something. As for music, the stars of the day were Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Johnny and Carter Cash, Tommy Hunter, Hank Snow, Wild Carter and Anne Murray. We listened to the radio a lot during breakfast and supper but not for programming like you did. Those days were done by the time my childhood rolled around. Thanks for taking the time to find the post. 😀

      1. Radio was our television, though for me that changed relatively quickly. I was about 7 or 8 when I saw my first TV program, and the first one that interested me was Huckleberry Hound.
        As for hockey, we never got to see the first period on TV in the 50s and early 60s. Don Messer’s Jubilee and Juliette were
        more important. When HNIC came on the game was about halfway through the second period. By that time some games were already decided. Poor Boston seldom won a game on TV until much later when they got Orr and Esposito.
        During my search I saw some pretty interesting titles. As I get time I hope to come back and read some.

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