Hank Williams and the beginning of Americana

The term “Americana” was added to the respected Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2011.

The musical scene changed during the next five years as Americana music became a legitimate hot property. Traveller by Chris Stapleton was the seventh best-selling album of 2016. It sold nearly one and a half million copies, placing it just below recordings by pop megastars Adele, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.

According to Merriam-Webster, Americana music is “a form of American music with origins in early folk and country music.”

Country and western, Appalachian, gospel, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B, and blues are all represented in this tapestry. Americana bands often comprise of mostly acoustic instruments, although they can also include a complete electric band.

It was early folk and gospel singers who laid the groundwork for coutrny and Americana music. Some of the modern blueprints came from the Western swing movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Its icon, Bob Wills, attained a national profile in the 1930s. Wills had a direct influence on Willie Nelson, helping to define his open-minded approach to music.

Nelson has paid a heartfelt tribute to Wills while also acknowledging a greater obligation to one of music’s true pioneers: Hank Williams. Williams, who died on January 1, 1953, at the age of 29, crammed a lot into his short life. These include the 29 songs he recorded, including “Hey, Good Lookin’, and ” “Why Don’t You Love Me? The Smithsonian Institution recognized him as a guiding light in 1999, with its first-ever discussion about country music.

Williams, like many pre-war musicians, learned to sing in a church choir (in Alabama).

His music blended the musical styles of his Deep South surroundings. This included Western swing, Appalachian mountain music, honky-tonk, country blues, and gospel music. It was his knack for penning painful confessional story songs that distinguished him as a very talented song writer however.

Williams was one of the first American singer-songwriters to articulate the common people’s profound personal feelings, dreams, and heartaches in direct and evocative songs. Leonard Cohen described his songwriting as sublime. Bob Dylan stated that Hank’s songs were the model principles of poetic songwriting. Artists as different as Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, and Al Green have covered Williams’ compositions.

Williams influenced hundreds of musicians, including country giants like Johnny Cash, who made an entire tribute album to the idol. These include singers like George Jones, Gram Parsons, and even modern rock stars like Beck, Keith Richards, and Tom Petty. When Ryan Adams and his fellow alt.country singers of the 1980s and 1990s tried to find their path, they turned to the man who could write a masterpiece like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

Williams, who was hard-drinking and straight-talking, was possibly country music’s first rebel. This trait was copied by the self-proclaimed outlaw country artists of the 1970s. They sought to take some of punk music’s defiant spirit into country’s mainstream. Hank Williams was Americana 70 years before the term became popular.

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