Friday, October 17, 2008


It’s very rare that we get a chance to hear the first-ever performance of a country classic, but that’s exactly what we get when we hear Hank Williams perform “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)” on the Mother’s Best show. It’s a song that has been performed by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, Linda Ronstadt (a #2 country hit), Margaret Whiting (a #74 pop hit), Adam Wade (#64 pop hit), Johnny Tillotson (#24 pop hit), B.J. Thomas (#94 pop hit), and Al Martino (#97 pop hit) and many, many others, but Mother’s Best gives us the opportunity to hear it as if we’re eavesdropping on the song just after the moment of creation. Hank chose I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) as the all-important follow-up the “Cold, Cold Heart,” and recorded it in March 1951. It was released in May, so it’s likely that we’re hearing him sing it in March or April that year. Hank mentions in his introduction that it had never been sung on-air before. He seems to be unfamiliar with it, and sings “there was another by your side” instead of “somebody else walked by your side.” In the early summer of 1951, I Can’t Help It reached #2 on the country charts, and several months later Hank performed the song with Anita Carter on Kate Smith’s NBC-TV show.

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