Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review of "Hank Williams: The Biography" by Colin Escott

As a child, I listened to old 78s of Hank Williams that I carefully pulled out of my dad's old cedar chest. Later, I got my very own 8-track player and fell asleep listening to Hank every night. All I can say after reading this book is,"Wow." I bought it at the Ryman Auditorium during a recent trip to Nashville and started reading it immediately. This is a very thorough look at Hank's short, sad life. Mr. Escott has included direct quotes from many of the people who knew Hank personally or were associated with him and has put together what might be the most comprehensive picture of his life yet.

I was particularly impressed with how well Hank's childhood and early life were covered. I had absolutely no idea prior to this book how far back his problems went. I was constantly doing math in my head as different incidents of Hank's drinking causing problems appeared to find dates that placed him in his mid-teens.

His meteoric rise and abrupt fall are covered quite skillfully. It even includes his earnings each year. A peek into the psychology of who Hank Williams was as a person is granted through quotes from his friends and associates. Learning the sad details of his last few months was horrifying to me, but it's the truth. I appreciate the truth. We also get a summary of the extensive aftermath following Hank's sudden death and the outcome for the people involved including his children.

I can't say I'm happy after finishing this book. I do feel like I know Hank Williams better than I did prior to reading it, though. This is the best Hank Williams biography I've read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in country music.

Hank Williams: The Biography

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