Hailing from Montgomery, Alabama, Hiram King Williams undeniably changed the sound of country and pop music in the 20th Century. Let's throw in rock & roll while we're at it--he changed that too. In his brief 29 years on earth, Hank effortlessly tossed off hit records that others would vainly spend entire lifetimes to get and still never get but ol' Hank would get it and get it three-fold every time he cracked his skinny knuckles.
Equally inspired by comic books (his preferred reading selection), the Bible, booze, pills and those fancy country ladies, Hank possessed a Geiger counter-like ability to pen hit after hit drunk or sober but mostly drunk. Even his non-hits are some of the greatest songs ever written. The guy knew how to tell a simple no-bullshit story that would kick you right in the gut while entertaining the hell out of you at the same time.
Piss-poor decisions regarding the fairer sex along with bad business moves provided sufficient grist for hundreds of country singers let alone one ignant singing hillbilly. On the looser songs like Setting the Woods On Fire, Hank swung it wild and inebriated as he celebrated the debauchery that got him into this show biz mess in the first place. In his darker moments he stared down and slammed the door on Death like it was the Tuesday afternoon Avon Lady. Hank was a hillbilly lightning rod savant from the Planet Genius who could out-write, out-record, and out-perform any other country music johnny-come loser-lately from here to the goddamned Kate Smith Show. Still the common denominator for hipsters and squares alike, Hank's songwriting cut to the truth like no one else could or would. There's barely a stinker in the 300-plus song catalog, so if you haven't done so already, try to listen to everything Hank ever recorded. Musically speaking, there's Hank Williams and then there's everything else.
Today would have been Hank's 85th birthday. Here's a recording of a show from rural Pennsylvania recorded shortly before he got booted from the Opry.