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Nashville or Bust: Hank Williams

June 4, 2009

Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club continues his unique experiment by immersing himself in the classics of country music for a year and writing about his introduction to the giants of the genre. This week, it’s Hank Williams, possibly the most influential of them all:

I also wanted to do justice to Hank Williams. In the cosmology of country, it doesn’t get any bigger than Hank. Since his death at age 29 on January 1, 1953, Williams has become the subject of religious reverence. The Church Of Hank accrues new members every day. Williams is the patron saint of outlaws. His name is invoked reverently in countless country songs. Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr.’s “The Conversation” captures both the kitschy sentimentality of the cult of Hank Williams and some of its troubling contradictions. Williams Jr. grew up to watch his father be deified in his death by the people who vilified him in life, though it is ironic to hear him speak spitefully of the detractors now “riding on his name.”

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