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Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light” Will Send You On A Deep Spiritual Journey

Hank Williams + I Saw The Light

Known as one of the most influential artists in the country music genre, Hank Williams has a massive collection of hits he earned over the decades. Arguably, even his not-so-commercially-successful songs are still top-tier in quality, like one, in particular, titled “I Saw The Light.” 

This 1948 song has become a timeless classic in his catalog and a country and gospel standard. 

Meaning Behind The Song

The legendary singer’s biographer Colin Escott described the song as “the prayer of the backslider, who lives in hope of redemption.” It’s introspective, chronicling how a lost soul who struggled, despaired and sinned found enlightenment and liberation from their past. 

Listening to it, from the powerful melody mixed with Hank Williams’ distinct vocal delivery down to its profound message, will send you on a spiritual journey. 

The song was actually inspired by one night while an inebriated Williams and his mother, Lilly, were driving back from a concert in Fort Deposit, Alabama. As they approached the city lights in Montgomery, Lilly remarked, “I just saw the light,” in reference to the Dannelly Field Airport. Shortly after, he wrote the song. 

The lyrics mentioned specific parts of the Bible, including citations from the Gospels of Matthew and John and excerpts from the first epistle to the Thessalonians and Revelations. It may sound familiar because it resembles Albert E. Brumley’s 1939 popular hymnal “He Set Me Free.”

He recorded the song with MGM Records in April 1947, and later on, he also did it with his wife, Audrey Williams. He sent their duet version to the producer with a note discouraging them from issuing it. He wrote that his wife was like any other person who sang badly – she didn’t know how bad she was. Fortunately for him, his request was accepted. 

His original recording’s release was held back, though. Clyde Grubb’s version, recorded in August of the same year, was dropped first under RCA Records a few months later. His version was only put out in September 1948 – and subsequently copyrighted in November. 

Hank Williams’ songs have always been a treat to the ears, and this one was no different. 

Catch Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light” in the video below. You can also check out his same-titled 2015 biopic, starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen.

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