In 1950, Hank Snow wrote “I’m Moving On,” which has now become a country standard.
This train song tells the tale of unfaithful love, and there’s perhaps no one who understood its message any more than Hank. The song absolutely speaks volumes about the singer’s gypsy-life lifestyle.
Snow was born in the small community of Brooklyn in Queens County, Nova Scotia, Canada, to parents who struggled financially. His parents divorced when he was only eight. His mother remarried, and unfortunately for Snow, his stepfather subjected him to severe beatings. Snow left home for good at the age of twelve.
During the next few years, young Snow supported himself – from selling newspapers, and Fuller brushes to unloading salt from a freighter to singing in the streets for pocket change, which honed his craft and made him good enough to land his own radio show that launched his career in music that spanned to fifty years.
You could say Snow spent his entire life moving on.
“That big eight-wheeler rollin’ down the track means your true lovin’ daddy ain’t comin’ back. ‘Cause I’m movin’ on, I’ll soon be gone. You were flyin’ too high for my little old sky. So I’m movin’ on,” Snow sings.
The message and music of “I’m Moving On” were also an updated tribute to his idol’s style, the late Jimmie Rodgers. Snow used the same themes and concepts of the music pioneer by developing a story that’s so energetic and catchy enough for the listeners to respond to it immediately.
Despite the song’s heart-wrenching message, it somehow made people feel good. Crowds would leave shows humming and singing it, after hearing it only once.
But The Song Almost Did Not Happen
Did you know the song almost did not happen? During Hank Snow’s first session for RCA Records in 1949, he proposed to record the song to recording director Stephen H. Sholes; however, it was turned down.
“Later on, in the spring of 1950, in Nashville, Mr. Sholes had not remembered the song, so I recorded it,” Snow said.
Showcasing Snow’s smooth baritone voice, “I’m Moving On” reached No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart and held that position for twenty-one weeks, securing a record for the most weeks on the top of the chart. It was the first of seven No. 1 Billboard country hits Snow scored all through his career on that chart.
The song’s success also led Snow to join the Grand Ole Opry.
Several notable country singers also covered the song, such as Ray Charles, Don Gibson, and Emmylou Harris, who took the uptempo live version of “I’m Moving On” to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and No. 1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada in 1983.
You can listen to “I’m Moving On” in the video below.