The music of Hank Williams is one of the undisputed cornerstones of country. But, as with any great songwriter, his work can be reinterpreted in a variety of styles, so here’s a uDiscover Music playlist gathering together the best Hank remakes by jazz artists.
Covers of Hank’s hits started to accumulate soon after he emerged as one of the most important new voices in American roots music in the late 1940s. “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” was unusual in his repertoire in that he didn’t write, or co-write it, himself. It’s widely attributed to his namesake Clarence Williams, but Hank’s 1949 version gave the song a wide audience. Just a year later, Louis Armstrong was putting his spin on it; Satchmo later visited Hank’s songbook again for “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” We also feature “Bucket” in a groovy take by the Ramsey Lewis Trio.
Songs for torch singers
The Williams catalog has proved popular with both male and female jazz soloists. Torch singers and jazz stylists such as Kay Starr, Nellie Lutcher and Dinah Washington all paid a visit, as did the Genius himself, Ray Charles, and the young Georgie Fame. Interpreters have included Cassandra Wilson, Madeleine Peyroux and Harry Connick, Jr. as well as revered jazz men such as Bill Frisell, the recently-departed Mose Allison and Joe Pass, on a 1994 album of Hank interpretations with country star Roy Clark.
Norah Jones brought “Cold, Cold Heart” to millions of new admirers as part of her hugely successful Come Away With Me, and paid tribute to Hank again in her spinoff group the Little Willies, who remade “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive.” We conclude with the great jazz guitarist John Scofield, who included a cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” on his Country For Old Men album.
Follow the official Hank Williams Best Of playlist.