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.