Monday, January 31, 2011

Hank Thompson

When I first started exploring country music, hard core, I picked up The Kitty Wells Story, and I learned that her signature song, called It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, was an answer record to The Wild Side Of Life by Hank Thompson. I’d never heard of Hank Thompson, and I’d never heard his song.

And when I finally did pick up this collection, which is The Capital Collectors Series, it wasn’t exactly what I expected.

Well wait, that’s not entirely true. I was expecting country and I got country, honky tonk style. But somehow I thought the song in question would be a celebration of the wild life. Not so. It was one of those musical curve balls you get when you explore the side roads of pop music history.

I love this music and I make no apologies. My colleague at work says that it’s because I’m from Winnipeg. Maybe so, but I didn’t listen to anything like this growing up. I only came to it, as I said, as an adult. And I don’t know what part of my psyche it speaks to, but whatever part it is seems to be very happy with it.

Hank Thompson:

Humpty Dumpty Heart – this nursery rhyme set to a Nashville heartbeat is from 1948.
Whoa, Sailor – From 1979.
The Wild Side Of Life – Hank sings about getting bitten after marrying the wrong sort of girl. Number 1 on the country charts in 1952, and it got Kitty Wells all excited, though I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
Waiting In The Lobby Of Your Heart – From 1952.
Rub-A-Dub-Dub – From 1953. Reached number 1 on the country chart.
Yesterday’ Girl – From 1953.
Wake Up Irene – Another number 1 country song, this was a parody of Goodnight Irene.
Honky Tonk Girl – The best kind, I hear. From 1954.
We’ve Gone Too Far – In the great country tradition of cheating songs. From 1954.
The New Green Light – From 1954.
Breakin’ In Another Heart – From 1955.
Don’t Take It Out On Me – From 1955.
The Blackboard Of My Heart – From 1956.
Rockin’ In The Congo – Arguably racist, but that’s not the intent. Not unlike The Ubangi Stomp.
Squaws Along The Yukon – Today’s politically correct world would render this nothing less than shocking. It’s meant to be a rather romantic view of native culture. From 1958.
A Six Pack To Go – In the grand country tradition of drinking songs. From 1960.
She’s Just A Whole Lot Like You – Thompson’s only foray into the pop charts, this snuck into the Billbard top 100 in the summer of 1960, reaching number 99 and disappearing after one week. Why this was the song to do is anybody’s guess.
Oklahoma Hills – Fron 1961
Hangover Tavern – From 1961.

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