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The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams


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Audio CD, October 4, 2011
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The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams + The Lost Concerts: Limited Collector's Edition + Hank Williams as Luke the Drifter: Beyond the Sunset
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Editorial Reviews

Created from writings left behind by country music's "lovesick blues boy," The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams premieres the first-ever performances of 12 previously unheard Hank Williams lyric compositions newly set to music by 13 artists whose own sensibilities have been profoundly shaped by Williams.

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams project began with the idea of finding a well-known artist, one who felt Hank's inspiration and influence, to record an album's worth of the unheard songs. After veteran music industry manager/A&R executive Mary Martin approached Bob Dylan, a natural first choice for the endeavor, the project evolved into a multi-artist tribute providing a variety of sympathetic approaches to this rich mysterious material. Other artists appearing on the album include Jack White, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Alan Jackson and many more.

When Hank Williams died, at the age of 29, in the back of his Cadillac sometime early morning on New Year's Day 1953, he left behind a scuffed, embroidered brown leather briefcase, which he used to carry bound notebooks, among other items, darkening their pages with lyrics and song ideas. Some were fully finished, some just started.

The odyssey of Hank Williams' notebooks is recounted in the album's liner notes, penned by Michael McCall from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, who observes, "The history of Hank's notebooks is as complex as the legend himself. Yet, in the end, what matters most are the songs, and these new works rise from the ether with ghostly relevance. As with his many standards, these new recordings tap straight into the soul of man. This is songwriting at its most artful and most powerful."

1. You've Been Lonesome, Too - Alan Jackson
2. The Love That Faded - Bob Dylan
3. How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart? - Norah Jones
4. You Know That I Know Jack White
5. I'm So Happy I Found You - Lucinda Williams
6. I Hope You Shed a Million Tears Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell
7. You're Through Fooling Me Patty Loveless
8. You'll Never Again Be Mine Levon Helm
9. Blue Is My Heart Holly Williams
10. Oh, Mama, Come Home Jakob Dylan
11. Angel Mine Sheryl Crow
12. The Sermon on the Mount Merle Haggard

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 4, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2011
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B005F23NMK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,243 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 5, 2011
Format: Audio CD
How to categorise this album is by no means an easy task. Is it a careful work of historical restoration taking the mother lode of lyrics produced in 4 large notebooks by Hank Williams the legendary genius of the country movement and treating them to latter day reverence? Alternatively is it an act of retro fitting Williams copious lyrics and giving them a pristine new revamp in song structures imagined by an impressive range of performers? Ultimately its a bit of both and has at its heart the ultimate archivist in the form of the one and only Bob Dylan acting as the guiding curator for a treasure trove that he was first offered as far back in 1967 when approached with a shoebox full of Williams's lyrics. The rights for these unfinished songs were only acquired in 2004 but as Rolling Stone states Dylan has performed a remarkable feat here offering these base metals to a range of great songwriters and turning "a vaguely necrophiliac idea into a startling reincarnation".

Hank Williams was the high lonesome prophet of honky tonk country who wrote the greatest heartbreaking classics of the genre. He was also the sad template for the "live fast die young" philosophy which has taken so many artists at a criminally young age and which saw him in the grave by the age of 29 ravaged by morphine and alcohol. Despite the passing of 60 years since his death in 1953 his legacy grows at pace and he has previously been covered by artsist ranging from Nat King Cole to the Mekons. On this album Dylan has assembled a top notch team, asked them to choose a lyric from the notebooks and set it to music. All have thankfully largely followed the Williams "house style" and as such the songs are immediately accessible and strangely familiar despite their newness.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Michael John Kennedy on October 6, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This music is delightful. Bob Dylan was wise to invite others to join this project and the results are refreshing. Indeed, no silly self-glorification, or self-promoting gimmicks. In this day and age Hank Williams and his fellow songwriters demonstrate what music and lyrics can mean when they promote the art form and not the "star". Laid bare, this is simply a group of songwriters doing their best to celebrate Hank Williams. A daunting challenge, but a great one, a good humored one, and the best part is they succeed. I've read reviews and one person likes this artist or that person thinks another was "best". I think that's great. It speaks to many tastes, many impressions, and the variety of skill these individuals display. Of course no single song will please everyone. Why should it? It's not a contest; it's a songwriting jam session and a pretty great one.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dante on October 14, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The best radio station in the country, WMNF in Tampa, played Jack White's contribution and I immediately knew that I had to have this album. Characteristically the WMNF DJ (Marcie Finkelstein) took the time to describe the project and how Bob Dylan had set the rules and that all artists had to agree to not change Hank's lyrics. Within that framework and seeing the list of artists I purchased it that day. I was not disappointed and this CD will be played many times and even talked about to friends and family. The diversity of musical styles is welcome and pleasing in their own right and yet each and every artist somehow finds a way to bring back the memory of a vibrant and talented Hank Williams. What we lost in our musical culture with his untimely passing we will never really know, but this collaboration hints at it. Bob Dylan is to be commended for spearheading this project and the other artists have created lasting and living tributes to the real Hank Williams. In my opinion this album adds to the legacy and legend of Hank Williams and I would put this on the gift list for any fan of real country music as well as fans of Americana and singer-songwriters.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Gill on October 8, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
This project is controversial to say the least. It's as if someone found some rough Picasso sketches and you to finish them. How could you possibly even pick up a brush? I think Hank Sr. is the best songwriter in American history. There is not one flawed lyric in his entire collection. He was gifted. So a part of me thinks it's blasphemy to even add your own assumed lyrics to his masterpieces. But then I came across Lucinda Williams's "I'm So Happy I Found You" on youtube [...] and every single time I hear it, I tear up. I heard she didn't add any lyrics, just her simple guitar. It's wonderful. And because of that I can't stand on a soapbox and yell and scream about how wrong this whole thing is. So I'm going to give this a chance. I would greatly appreciate a PDF attachment of liner notes detailing who added what lyrics. I would have also greatly appreciated the input of his grandson, Hank 3. I don't think he would have touched it with a ten foot pole, but I now have a wish to see him on stage sing with Lucinda. I think that might beautifully tear my heart right out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lost John on November 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD
When Hank Williams died, aged 29, Bob Dylan was 11 years old. Had Hank lived as long as his family, friends and fans would have liked, he would have come to know the work of Bob Dylan. In time, the two of them might have performed together. Who knows, there might even have been a song-writing collaboration.

Not that Hank ever seems to have been stuck for words to his songs. We learn from this album and its notes that he travelled with a battered suitcase containing notebooks and other papers on which were written lyrics for dozens of songs yet to be fully realized and recorded. Michael McCall of the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum writes, "Hank wrote songs the way he drank whiskey; like there was no tomorrow. For Hank, drinking .... was not a communal, shared activity.... It was a pain-killing pursuit exercised alone. He wrote songs like that too."

How far Hank got with a tune for each of those 'lost' songs we will never know, but the collaboration that might have been with Bob Dylan, and a dozen other song writers and performers, has come about. Bob was offered the lyric books by the successors to Hank's music publisher and the result is this album. And it's definitely one to savor.

So we get 'You've been lonesome too' from Alan Jackson, 'The Love that faded' from Bob Dylan, 'How Many times have you broken my heart?' from Norah Jones, and nine more, all with words by Hank Williams Senior and music by the performer in question (Levon Helm and Patty Loveless further collaborated musically with, respectively, Larry Campbell and Emory Gordy). The familiar Hank Williams sad and lonesome theme predominates, but is set aside for 'Angel mine', sung by Sheryl Crow, and 'The sermon on the mount', a pious dialogue provided by Merle Haggard as the final track.
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The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams
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