February 15, 2018

Hank Williams Sings, “You Win Again”, and How Hard that Could Be

“You Win Again” is a 1952 song by Hank Williams. For its approach, the song is a blues ballad that deals with Williams’ misery with his wife Audrey. Recorded at Castle Studio in Nashville, Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), and Harold Bradley (rhythm guitar) joined Hank Williams. Rumor had it that Chet Atkins played lead guitar and Ernie Newton played bass. Since then, several musicians have covered the song. To name are Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones.

When MGM released “You Win Again”, it was the B-side to “Settin’ the Woods on Fire” primarily because up-tempo, danceable numbers were preferable to A-sides. This was for the purpose of radio play and for the valuable jukebox trade. Nevertheless, “You Win Again” peaked at number ten on the Most Played in C&W Juke Boxes chart, staying there for a week.

From “I Lose Again” to “You Win Again”

On July 11, 1952, Hank Williams recorded “You Win Again”. Hank did the recording a day after the settlement of his divorce from Audrey. Just like “Cold, Cold Heart”, the inspiration for the song came from his chaotic relationship with his ex-wife. Furthermore, biographer Colin Escott observed that this might have been no more than a coincidence. Escott added that in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary, the songs cut that day after Hank’s divorce seemed like torn pages from his diary. The theme, according to Colin, spoke of betrayal that had grown old years before Hank tackled it. However, drawing from his endless well of bitterness, he gave it a kind freshness that bordered on a topic of interest.

In Williams’ original draft, the song had the title “I Lose Again”. But through producer Fred Rose’s perseverance, they changed it. When you hear the song, it gives you a memorable opening line that goes:

The news is out all over town.

This marks the beginning of a story of an outright crushed storyteller who cannot bring himself to leave his love despite her unfaithfulness.


Hank Williams Sr., i lose again, you win again

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