Hank Williams’ Ultimatum: ‘You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)’

Hank’s new hit of October 1949 was inspired in no small part by the singer’s fiery relationship with his wife, Audrey.

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Hank Williams '40 Greatest Hits' artwork: UMG
Hank Williams '40 Greatest Hits' artwork: UMG

Every year in the sadly curtailed recording career of Hank Williams produced any number of timeless pieces of music, but 1949 was an especially memorable period for the country pioneer.

He made Billboard’s country charts with such irrefutable classics as “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” his No.1 version of the 1920s number “Lovesick Blues” and the song that later lent its name to a record label, “Lost Highway.” On October 1 that year, Williams entered the listings with another gem, the typically plain-speaking “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave).”

You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)

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The abrasive lyric was inspired in no small part by the singer’s fiery relationship with his wife, Audrey. Nevertheless, it was played at a jaunty tempo with excellent cameos by Don Davis on steel guitar and Dale Potter on fiddle. Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Fred Rose handled production of the track, which was cut at Castle Studio in Nashville some six months before it hit the charts.

Six hits in a year

That same week, Williams was booked to play at the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo, Texas, with other stars such as Ernest Tubb and Minnie Pearl. “You’re Gonna Change” was Williams’ fifth of six country chart singles of a busy year, climbing to No.4, with the B-side “Lost Highway,” listed in its own right, hitting No.12. So great was the success of one of those hits from earlier in 1949, “Lovesick Blues,” that it was still listed as the nation’s Best Selling Retail Country & Western Record when the new entry arrived.

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

After Hank’s death, “You’re Gonna Change” was covered by a later country maverick, George Jones, then by Williams’ son Hank Jr. In 2001, Tom Petty recorded it for the Grammy-winning tribute album Timeless, appropriately released on Lost Highway. Other contributors to that tasteful tip of the hat included Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Mark Knopfler, Keith Richards, and Emmylou Harris.

Buy or stream “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” on Hank Williams’ 40 Greatest Hits.




  1. Shirley Robertson

    October 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    My dad, who is almost 91 years old was a personal friend and played guitar with Hank Williams in Montgomery. He has a wealth of information about his relationship with Hank and that will be lost when he is gone. He lives in Fairhope, Al. and someone should talk to him about Hank while he’s still alive. His name is Herbert Pierce and if you want to contact him, please e-mail me for information!

    • Dennis

      October 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      Why don’t you write it all down.

    • Diego Vebber

      August 24, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Shirley, I’m Diego and I’d like to get more information about Herbert Pierce please.

    • Gustaf Sauren

      October 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Shirley, I’m 73 years pld guy from Finland who has had HW as number one artist since 1958. I have, at least I think so, all the LP released with Hank Williams . Sometime in the late seventies or maybe early eighties I had the pleasure of meeting all of The Drifting Cowboys. We made an hour long interwiew with then for the national Finnish Radio. Foolisly enough I gave the tapes to the Radio and took no copies. The radio people lost the tapes which I think would be very valuable today. Maybe there would be another chance if I came over to the US to get memories and rembrances of HW on tape pne more time.Pls let me know what are the chances.

    • Rocky

      October 3, 2017 at 12:09 am

      How cool old stories are missed and loved.

  2. Charlotte

    October 19, 2015 at 6:01 am

    For the time being, start now recording his stories with Hank.

  3. James P Crumlish

    October 1, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    and I heard that Miss Audrey is still fuming…although not so noticeable as she is in hell

  4. Nelson Breaux

    October 1, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I would love to talk to him r you!

  5. Rocky

    October 3, 2017 at 12:09 am

    How cool. yes wright it all down.

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