Friday, May 2, 2014

Hank Williams: “The Garden Spot Programs, 1950” (2014) CD Review

It’s such a treat to get to hear some new Hank Williams recordings. Not that they’re actually new, of course. They were recorded in 1950, but most of these tracks haven’t been released until now on CD or LP (yes, this collection is going to be released on translucent red vinyl as well as CD). A few tracks were released on a special Record Store Day vinyl EP a couple of weeks ago.

The tracks on The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 are from four different programs, and the recordings include some banter and song introductions. Each program opens with “The Garden Spot Jingle,” which starts with these lines: “Hello, everybody, Garden Spot is on the air/So just relax and listen in your easy rocking chair.” It also includes this line: “We hope that we can please you.” Oh, no worries there. Hank Williams ends each program with a little spoken goodbye (about how the clock has caught up with them) and then an instrumental version of “Oh! Susanna.”

“Lovesick Blues”

The first program starts with one of my favorites, “Lovesick Blues.” When I was in my late teens, Jon Svetkey turned me on to this tune with his excellent cover of it. Of course, Hank Williams’ own version is a cover, as this is one he didn’t write. But he sure could sing the hell out of it. And on this recording we get to hear Hank introduce it. It’s a great version, with that delicious breaking yodel in his voice on words like “daddy” and “over” and “lonesome.”

There is a second version of this great tune in the second program, and this time it’s introduced by the program’s host as “a great favorite all over the country.” And Hank begins it while he’s still talking, leading to the funny “Here we go.”

Well, I’m in love, I’m in love with a beautiful gal/That’s what’s the matter with me.”

“A Mansion On The Hill”

“A Mansion On The Hill” finds Hank lonesome too, but it’s a sweeter tune. “You said you could live without love, dear/In your loveless mansion on the hill.” And one thing I love is that fiddle. His love and care for the woman in this song never fail.  I know you’re alone with your pride, dear/In your loveless mansion on the hill.”

“Fiddle Tune”

Each of the four programs includes “Fiddle Tune.” As you might guess, it’s the fiddle that drives these tracks. These are excellent instrumental tracks, though all are pretty short. The third one is quite lively, even including a shout of “Yee-haw!” The fourth one is also pretty lively, but is the shortest of all four tracks (and is actually the shortest track on the disc).

“I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye” is an absolutely gorgeous and sad song. “I’ve just told mama goodbye/Mother’s Day has turned to night/Like the flowers in May, she withered away.”

“Mind Your Own Business”

The second program opens with the host telling folks to stick around because Hank is going to play “Lovesick Blues.” Hank then goes into the wonderful, bluesy “Mind Your Own Business,” joking about its title in his introduction (saying it’s called “If You Mind Your Business, You’ll Stay Busy 48 Hours Out Of The 24”). I love these lines: “If I get my head beat black and blue/Now that’s my wife and my stove wood too.”

"I Cant Get You Off Of My Mind"

Hank starts the third show with “I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind,” a fun song about despairing over a woman who is “the two-timing kind.” I always love Hank Williams' voice, and on this one in particular he sounds wonderful. Then “I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)” begins with a nice introduction by Hank mentioning that the tune is available on record.

“I’ll Be A Bachelor ‘Til I Die”

Hank introduces “I’ll Be A Bachelor ‘Til I Die” as a novelty song. In this one, he sings about all the things he’ll do for his girl, then adds, “But get that marrying out of your head.” It’s an absolutely delightful and totally funny tune, and he sings, “I’m afraid of church bells, how they scare me when they chime.”

He then follows that with a cover of “Wedding Bells,” saying it’s one of his favorite songs. This one is about how a woman he loves is marrying another man. He sings, “Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel/That should be ringing now for you and me.” A nice pairing of songs, don’t you agree?

Hidden Track

There is a hidden track at the end of track 24. It’s an advertisement for Naughton Farms, the sponsor of the radio program, and is introduced by Hank Williams. Quick, order now, and get “Fifteen thrilling rose bushes.” The cost is $1.98 (plus postage).

CD Track List

  1. The Garden Spot Jingle
  2. Lovesick Blues
  3. A Mansion On The Hill
  4. Fiddle Tune
  5. I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye
  6. Closing/Oh! Susanna
  7. The Garden Spot Jingle
  8. Mind Your Own Business
  9. Lovesick Blues
  10. Fiddle Tune
  11. At The First Fall Of Snow
  12. Closing/Oh! Susanna
  13. The Garden Spot Jingle
  14. I Can’t Get You Off Of My Mind
  15. I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)
  16. Fiddle Tune
  17. Farther Along
  18. Closing/Oh! Susanna
  19. The Garden Spot Jingle
  20. I’ll Be A Bachelor ‘Til I Die
  21. Wedding Bells
  22. Fiddle Tune
  23. Jesus Remembered Me
  24. Closing/Oh! Susanna

The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 is scheduled to be released on May 20, 2014 through Omnivore Recordings. By the way, this CD includes liner notes by Colin Escott.

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