Within the past several weeks I've made a little fun of emo and also of Jay Farrar's particular brand of Americana mope, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea - I love sad songs. When a particular melancholy tune hits me the right way, a wave of intense happiness hits me. I can't explain it. Hank, of course, is the king of sad songs - "Cold Cold Heart," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "Your Cheatin' Heart" are poignant institutions in American music.
"Your Cheatin' Heart" leads off the collection, and as much as its meaning has been denuded by its prevalence in popular culture (such as the famous Super Bowl ad where a Pepsi employee purchases Coke, or maybe the other way around), it's easy to ignore how fascinating this song is. The unfaithful subject of the tune is told how much he / she is going to suffer for his / her sins, but not in the Carrie Underwood "You'll be sorry when I ruin your car" way. The cheater's heart will betray him (I'm tired of the slashes), and the voice of the song is almost sympathetic. The prevailing emotion is pity. The lyrical and vocal deftness needed to convey pity in a three-minute pop song is staggering, and it makes the dumb hammer of rage wielded by Underwood in "Before He Cheats" such a clumsy tool in comparison.
Thankfully the whole collection isn't that rawly emotional, and peppier and funnier tunes like "Move It On Over" and "Hey, Good Lookin'" balance things out. Twenty of Hank Williams' Greatest Hits has the big hits, and if you don't have any of Hank's work, it's a great place to start.
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20 Of Hank Williams' Greatest Hits