Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mama He Tried

Appreciating country music's first rock star:
Among the country set, there have always been similar assumptions about the broad outlines of his work. For example, Wesley Rose, the son of Hank’s publisher and producer Fred Rose, the hidden hand behind the magic of those songs, once said that had Hank lived, “I don’t think we could have had a rock era,” his point being that rock and roll was a cheap replacement for Hank’s music rather than a logical extension of roots that included it. But then, the same people used to say Elvis wasn’t welcome in Nashville unless he stopped with that wriggling, jiggling rock and roll stuff.
Even so, it was hard to deify him during his lifetime, so proudly unrefined was he. His songs, culled at times from the pages of comic books, celebrated simple human concepts—God, beer, a good woman, and a blessed break from loneliness. Yet to some, even then, he was the voice of not only a more liberal South but also “the common people,” another way of saying white trash. That quality still resonates in his music, explaining why in a cultural maw he never could have foreseen, there have been two Pepsi Super Bowl commercials built around “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and that his music bleeds far beyond its strictest borders, the reason why Williams owns a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for lifetime achievement.
Hank helped pave the way, and paid a price...

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