Hank Williams’s subversive narratives

hank williams

The extraordinary popularity of Hank Williams’s songs in the late 1940s and early 1950s played a crucial role in transforming country music from a regional and class-bound genre to a staple of mass popular culture.

Yet Williams’s narratives exuded a fatalism and despair about personal relationships, resisted romantic optimism, and avoided the kinds of closure and transcendence historically associated with male subjectivity.

His refusal to embrace dominant cultural narratives gave an individual voice to collective fears and hopes about the body, romance, gender roles, and the family.

This according to “‘Everybody’s lonesome for somebody’: Age, the body and experience in the music of Hank Williams” by Richard D. Leppert and George Lipsitz (Popular music IX/3 [October 1990] pp. 259–274).

Today is Williams’s 90th birthday! Below, a live recording of his classic expression of male vulnerability.

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