by Brian Turpen
It is pretty well known that Hank had high regard and respect for Roy Acuff. In fact, on his shows during his early years, Hank was known to often sing songs by his idol. Hank is also known to have stated, “I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin’ like myself.” Even though Hank may have stopped trying to sing like Acuff, he didn’t stop singing songs Acuff had recorded. On the surviving Mother’s Best shows, there are many examples of Hank reviving Acuff’s tunes, or tunes associated with Acuff.
Time-Life’s compilation, Hank Williams, the Unreleased Recordings, includes 54 songs from the 72 surviving Mother’s Best shows, and 10 of those are associated with Acuff. Clearly, Hank’s respect for Acuff was still high even though his star had long eclipsed his idol’s. Hank gladly acknowledged his roots on the Mother’s Best shows, and no one influenced him more than Roy Acuff. The ten songs associated with Acuff or previously recorded by Acuff were Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Low And Lonely, Drifting Too Far From The Shore, The Prodigal Son, Searching For A Soldier’s Grave, Pins & Needles, Wait For The Light To Shine, The Pale Horse & His Rider, The Great Judgment Morning, and Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine. The latter has a slightly different story because it appears as though Hank demo’d the song on behalf of its writers for Acuff. It is thought that Hank did this as a favor to his producer/ music publisher, Fred Rose, and the song’s composers, Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart. Rose pitched the song to Acuff, who recorded it in September 1951.
Although these ten songs may have been put on disc by Acuff, one can tell that Hank didn’t just do covers of the song for his morning radio show. As one will notice when listening, Hank put his own indelible mark on his versions.