Just by taking a quick peek at a list of Hank Williams songs, you’ll see a combination of up-tempo classics that have been a part of the country’s consciousness for decades.
But perhaps the true mark of what made Hank Williams the man we can never forget – despite his short years in the industry – was his ability to captivate the minds and attention of country fans with ballads that are trickled with anguish and sorrow. Of course, the now-legend also wrote some of the most enduring and powerful songs and even laid the foundations for those who came after him.
With that in mind, here’s our selection of his greatest hits.
1. I Saw the Light
Even though the song was not a commercial success and didn’t make it to the country charts, it became one of Williams’ most recognized and adored hits. “I Saw The Light” became a standard, not only on country music but also on the gospel music genre.
Several artists have since covered the song, including Roy Acuff, who also led the singing of the song during Williams’ funeral in 1953.
2. Hey Good Lookin’
Williams told then-aspiring artist Little Jimmy Dickens he needed a hit record to become a superstar, so Williams wrote him “Hey Good Lookin'” in less than half an hour while on a plane. However, Williams recorded the song himself a week later, jokingly telling Dickens that it’s too good for him.
3. I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
This was the last single to be released during Williams’ lifetime. Chet Atkins, who played lead guitar on the song, remembered how Williams battled all his might just to finish recording the song. “He was so weak that all he could do was just sing a few lines and then just fall in the chair,” Atkins said.
4. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is perhaps one of the most covered songs among Williams catalog, with notable versions by Glen Campbell, George Jones, Johnny Cash, and even LeAnn Rimes. Elvis Presley also released a live version of the song on his 1973 album Aloha From Hawaii, where he described it as “the saddest song I’ve ever heard.”
5. Lovesick Blues
Not only did this become Williams’ chart-topper, but the song’s success landed him on the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. His debut on the prestigious show was met with applause and a standing ovation. Since then, he has used “Lovesick Blues” to close his shows.
6. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)
This is absolutely one of the most iconic ballads of all time where Williams showcased his ability to make you feel the emotion of the song’s narrator. You’ll be surprised how much the man’s wistful pain of still carrying a torch for his former lover in the song will pluck your heartstrings.
7. Why Don’t You Love Me
Williams’ third no.1 single is another song inspired by Williams’ tumultuous marriage with his first wife, Audrey Williams – though it was more lighthearted in nature.
8. Lost Highway
A rarity in the case that he didn’t write “Lost Highway,” Williams still made this song all his own. It tells the haunting story of a man heading down a painful path in life – something Williams knew all too well.
9. Honky Tonk Blues
This one is said to be among the most troublesome songs Williams ever recorded. Williams and his producer Fred Rose actually attempted to record this frisky number three times until it hit the mark. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
10. Take These Chains From My Heart
Recorded during Williams’ final recording session, the song shot to No. 1 in the wake of his death. Well, it’s no surprise as the song’s theme of hopelessness was brilliantly conveyed by Williams’ naturally fervent singing.
11. Your Cheatin’ Heart
Anyone who has been with an unfaithful partner will immediately relate to this song about cheating. It is said that Williams wrote this poignant ballad in the middle of a trip, while describing his first wife, Audrey.
12. Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
The song topped the country chart for Williams in the last few years of his career. An uptempo pop version with country flourishes later became a staple for the Carpenters.
13. Moanin’ The Blues
We’ve heard the story before: the woman leaving, the man getting the blues. However, Williams did not just express regret in “Moanin’ The Blues” – the song also served as a warning to other guys to treat their lady right.
14. (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle
This song comes with two major themes in country music: trains and prison. It became famous for how Williams imitates the train whistle’s sound on the word “lo-o-onesome.”
15. Move It on Over
Williams’ first charting single, “Move It on Over,” exemplified Williams’ uncanny talent to convey aspects of daily life in a comical way. This song actually tells the story of a man who made his wife so mad for coming home late. She was so angry she let him sleep in the doghouse.
Some More Hank Williams Songs Every Country Fan Should Know
While country music has grieved for a lifetime due to the loss of the music that Williams might have made if he was still with us, the country legend still left his mark. Here are some of his tunes that continue to inspire several decades later.
Truly, this list of Hank Williams songs is a masterpiece.