Friday, July 3, 2009

Rare Hank Williams Demo Unearthed!

Ok, so usually I fill this column with (my approximation of) jokes -- silly drawings, cartoons, failed attempts at Onion-esque satire, etc.

This is not that.

Long story short - I was recording a folk song and wanted it to have the whirr of an old-fashioned reel to reel, but couldn't recreate the ambiance digitally. I scoured local flea markets and garage sales, and after a week, lo and behold, I found a still-working reel to reel for the bargain price of $20. I happily bartered Andrew Jackson for the machine and retreated to my basement recording studio.

It took some creative wiring to connect it to my computer but with the proper adapters in place the two coupled nicely. Guitar at ready, I was just about to mash the record button and commit my inconsequential folk ditty to glorious magnetic tape, when curiosity rushed over me. Instead I hit play. You can imagine my surprise to hear none other than Hank Williams crooning a demo of Cold Cold Heart!

I've done some preliminary research and I'm fairly certain this session was sometime in early 1951. The "Fred" on tape is probably Fred Rose, Hank's Producer and Manager. As to the third voice on the tape - I can't report anything better than a guess. Maybe an unnamed musician picked up during a Drifting Cowboys show? Admittedly I know little about Hank Williams, and aside from his most popular work, can't claim anything but a passing knowledge. The second song on this recording I've found absolutely no record of: as far as I can tell, my reel-to-reel tape is the ONLY EXISTING RECORDING of this second song.

So, with no further ado, I proudly present a little slice o' American history for ya': a rare demo of Hank's superhit Cold Cold Heart, followed by a verse and chorus (and vigorous discussion) of a song never before heard, tentatively titled Diddle All the Day:

1 comment:

  1. Since Hank recorded his demos BEFORE he made his studio recordings, this demo almost certainly was recorded in 1950, as {Hank's version of} "Cold, Cold Heart" was recorded near the end of 1950.