The death of Hank Williams on New Year’s Day, 1953 was an all-too-predictable tragedy, given his history of alcohol and drug abuse. But if anything, it only increased his stature as a recording artist and, as the years went by, a true legend of country music.
In the period that immediately followed his passing, Williams had no fewer than four No. 1 country hits in a row in 1953, to add to the seven he amassed during his lifetime. Then came two more top ten hits with further posthumous releases, of which ‘Weary Blues From Waitin” was released by MGM on 8 July that year.
Likely to have been recorded as a demo in 1951 at Castle Studios in Nashville, the song was completed by Hank’s group the Drifting Cowboys. Following Williams’ demise, the group were mainly now working for the up-and-coming country star Ray Price, who had his first two top ten hits in 1952. Price, indeed, released the first commercial version of ‘Weary Blues’ in the autumn of 1951, just before his commercial breakthrough on Columbia Records.
The song, featuring Williams’ distinctive, plaintive yodel, was backed on the 78rpm release by ‘I Can’t Escape From You.’ It entered the country chart in October, and although it was only listed on Billboard’s survey for two weeks, reached No. 7. It was later covered by a range of artists from Ronnie Hawkins to Del Shannon, with a 1967 duet version by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez later released on the 12th volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series.
Dylan has also performed the song in concert, and Hank’s son Hank Williams Jr. recorded the number, which also drew an instrumental version by guitar wizard Duane Eddy and another by rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson.
‘Weary Blues From Waitin” is on Hank Williams’ 40 Greatest Hits, can be bought here.
Follow the official Hank Williams Best Of playlist.