Hank was often a directionless and hopeless alcoholic, but his genius was obvious even in the midst of his deepest depressions. Self-destructive and moody, he was country music’s most creative and endearing writer of timeless words and melodies, and retains that lofty status to this day. His music would not only transcend his own life, but transcend the entire genre of country music. He would not just inspire a new group of honky-tonkin’ country stars, but through his mesh of gospel, blues and country, as well as his embracing of the sounds and soul of black rural music, he would shape the Southern boys who would shake the world in the mid-fifties with the brand new sound of “rock and roll” (Williams himself is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame).
And though the term wouldn’t be used until after his death, and is even today rarely used to describe his work, Hank was the first popular prophet of the “rockabilly” style of music. By simply spewing out all of his great pain into his music and setting it to a unique, heartfelt rhythm, he touched the world and reshaped music as no one has ever done before. There is little need to document the fact that Hank Williams is to country music songwriting what Mark Twain is to American literature. No one could turn a phrase like he could. No one could paint the pictures. No one could compose such simple and awe-inspiring melodies. And no one could do it as often or as quickly as he did. So, with those facts established, one of country music’s most interesting ironies remains the origin of Hank’s first huge hit record.