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‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’: Hank Williams’ High Lonesome Sound

A trademark Hank Williams song was created on August 30, 1949, when Hank recorded ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Hank Williams - Photo: Courtesy of UMG Nashville
Hank Williams - Photo: Courtesy of UMG Nashville

It’s a song that helped define the legend of Hank Williams, even though it was originally a B-side. It’s been covered by scores of notable artists from Johnny Cash to Elvis Presley, Dean Martin to Del Shannon, and Roy Orbison to Little Richard. And it was on August 30, 1949, that Hank recorded “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in a studio in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

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Surely one of the most lovelorn lyrics in all of country music, “I’m So Lonesome…” was written by Williams during his troubled relationship with his wife Audrey Sheppard. He recorded it at Herzog Studio on that late summer day, as he approached his 26th birthday.

Hank was, by now, an established country star, having scored Top 10 hits in that format with “Move It On Over” and ”I’m A Long Gone Daddy” and a massive No.1 earlier in 1949 with “Lovesick Blues.” He would have no fewer than six country hits that year, and two of them were double-sided success in which the flip also made the charts.

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then

Farewell to the 40s

But for his final single release of 1949 in November, MGM Records decided that “Lonesome” would be a mere B-side, playing second fiddle to the admittedly more uptempo and radio-friendly “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It.” The A-side was indeed highly successful, climbing to No.2 on Billboard’s Best Sellers In Stores country chart.

Listen to the best of Hank Williams on Apple Music and Spotify

But while “Lonesome” never attained a chart position of its own, it became a highly popular part of Hank’s repertoire, and later that of many others. When Elvis performed it on his Aloha From Hawaii TV special of 1973, he described it as “probably the saddest song I’ve ever heard.” It’s now one of the songs most closely associated with Williams and his all-too-short career.

Literally hundreds of covers of the tune have been recorded, starting almost immediately with one early in 1950 by the Foggy Mountain Boys. Interpretations have varied in style far and wide, from the Everly Brothers to Al Green, and from Townes Van Zandt to Yo La Tengo.

Buy or stream “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” on Hank Williams’ 40 Greatest Hits.



  1. Eric

    August 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Good as it gets.

  2. Thomas Davis

    August 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I thank you for a place that we can hear good things.

  3. Eva

    August 30, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    He was so great, as is his Son, “Hank Williams JR.

  4. Len

    August 30, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Elvis said it was the saddest song he ever heard. Hank had a few of them.

  5. Ken

    August 31, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    With out doubt the greatest country singer of all time. No one sings the country blues like Hank did.

    • Ron Head

      August 31, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      Gotta agree there Ken

  6. bill

    October 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I could listen to hank & most of our old country singers from now on. Bill K

  7. ray johnson

    January 10, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Hank was one of the BEST !!!

  8. Fred Cook

    August 31, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I grew up listening to Hank and was 13 when he died. I couldn’t believe it.. I cried. None in any genre could lay his heart on the line in a song like Hank. Damn I think I’m starting to cry right now. Time to put on a Hank Williams CD. Start that steel guitar a whinin’ Don.

  9. William E. Jones

    August 30, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I listened to ‘Hank” in the late 40’s on WJJD Chicago, I’m so Lonesome I could Cry and Mansion on the Hill were just great. He was great too late gone too soon. Bill

  10. Patricia dhansew

    August 30, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Listen to Hank Williams since I was a child growing up in Guyana. Love the Singing Waterfall as Cool Watet. Love all his music and have them most iof them. One of my passions is to collect his music and I have been doing that for the past 40 something years. My father and my uncles all sand Hank Williams and they can yodel too. I’m a long gone daddy and Nobody lonesome for me. Have his gospel records too.. Are you walking are you talking.. Hus burdens are greater than mine. Still think he is one of the greatest. Died on my birthday Jan 1 and the year of my sister birth 1953 I think.

  11. Innocent III

    September 2, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    One of the Master’s greatest songs. I can’t hear it without being stopped dead in my tracks. HANK WILLIAMS FOREVER!

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The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
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