November 23

A Wintry Recollection: Hank Williams’ Song, Cold, Cold Heart

On this day, back in 1950, the respected country artist, Hank Williams wrote a song that pierced through the hearts of many fans and critics. His song, Cold, Cold, Heart is a blues ballad became widely popular that it made it to the Great American Songbook (also known as American Standards).

When Hank Williams wrote the song, he adapted the melody from T. Texas Tyler’s recording of You’ll Still Be In My Heart in 1945. As for the background, it depicts the frustrating feeling of unrequited trust and love due to the partner’s bad experiences with lovers past. At the time of the Cold Cold Heart’s composition, Hank Williams was married to Audrey Sheppard. Williams was Sheppard’s second husband. Their married life was a rather unstable one. They had a son together, while Sheppard already had a daughter with her previous husband. Audrey even had an illegal abortion at home, without the knowledge of the country singer. She was then rushed to the hospital due to an infection she contracted. But when Hank Williams went to visit her and was about to plant a kiss on her forehead, Audrey turned her back against him, called him a “sorry son of a bitch” and blamed him for what had happened to her.

It was then that the legendary singer was struck with the lyrics of the song. When they got back home, he sighed and concluded that his wife had a cold, cold heart.

Hank Williams even described the song as the one that helped him buy “quite a few beans and biscuits” and was inarguably the best song that he had financially. In comparison, the version released by Tony Bennett ended up in the 7th spot overall. Hank Williams’ own version was at the top of the charts and spawned several other versions by fellow artists.

Delving deeper into the history of Cold Cold Heart, it was revealed in the book, Hank Williams: The Biography by George Merritt, Wiliam MacEwen, and Colin Escott that the song was originally supposed to be Dear John’s B-Side. Dear John was the biggest and only hit that Aubrey Gass has ever written. Hank Williams meanwhile claimed that he wrote the song in just an hour, but had to face legal action after he copped the melody from Tyler’s song. However, the case was closed after the song was awarded costs of $5000 on January 13, 1955.

Check out the link below and listen to the heartbreaking song that reflected one of the hardest times Hank Williams’ had to endure during his lifetime.


Cold, Hank Williams Sr., heart

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