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Jan. 9: This is my favorite Hank Williams number, his first cut to feature the band that would become known as “The Original Drifting Cowboys”: Don Helms on steel, Jerry Rivers on fiddle, Bob McNett on electric guitar and Ernie Newton on bass. Joined on the session by prolific rhythm guitarist Jack Shook, these guys provided ol’ Hank’s tightest backing yet – and with him were entering two years of making one hit after another.

I love the imagery in this song, whose references to water are no accident. Williams and fellow tunesmith Vic McAlpin wrote it during a fishing trip to Kentucky Lake, about 70 miles west of Nashville. But only Hank got composer’s credit. Here’s a Google Books link to Roger M. Williams’ fine biography, Sing A Sad Song: The Life of Hank Williams. In this passage, McAlpin talks about that trip and that song, followed by an examination of Hank’s writing and of songwriting in general.

The record was made 60 years ago today at the Castle Studio in downtown Nashville’s Tulane Hotel. Both are gown now. So are Hank, the Drifting Cowboys, the very sound they and their contemporaries made. I guess you could say it gives folks like us the gone-but-not-forgotten blues. The only antedote is more Hank, so click on that image up top and take your medicine.

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