This year marks the 66th death anniversary of the legendary Hank Williams. He died in the early morning of January 1, 1953, on his way to West Virginia for a New Year’s Day show. It is so sad that he passed away too soon leaving his family, friends, fellow artists, and fans in agony. Despite this, he left us his music which will forever be cherished and celebrated for generations to come.
Many artists consider Williams as one of their musical influences. Especially for country music crooners, they look up to the legend as one who was the most significant and influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century.
“Midnight in Montgomery:” An Ode of Jackson to Williams
One of the artists who adore Williams so much is country music icon, Alan Jackson. Most often than not, Jackson covers Williams’ songs in his shows and performances. In fact, he even wrote a song about him and called it “Midnight in Montgomery.” To note, Williams was from Montgomery, Alabama, and his tomb is there.
The tune narrates the story when Jackson stopped by Williams’ grave on the way to a New Year’s Eve show.
Interestingly, some of the lyrics describe his encounter with the ghost of Williams at the grave.
And a drunk man in a cowboy hat
Took me by surprise,
Wearing shiny boots, a Nudie suit
And haunting haunted eyes…
Released in 1992, “Midnight in Montgomery” is Jackson’s fourth single on his album, Don’t Rock the Jukebox. Despite its wide success and story, the song just charted at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts.
In one of his performances on the popular TV show American Music Shop, Jackson rendered the song and explained its inspiration to the crowd.
“I’m a big Hank Williams fan. About a year ago, I was traveling around, visiting radio stations. I ended up in Montgomery, Alabama. I spent the night there. It was the first time I had ever really been there.”
Then he paused and continued talking.
“You know, Hank’s buried there and they got a really nice monument over by his grave. Late that night, I stopped by to pay my respects to Hank and it was kind of a stormy night in Montgomery. It was kind of strange feeling being there and got back to Nashville and me and a songwriting friend of mine, Don Sampson, we wrote this song as a tribute to Hank Williams Sr.”Alan Jackson
“Midnight in Montgomery” is a song that is dark and haunting. It is much different from a lot of Jackson’s songs. But, it is such a fitting tribute to Williams.
Check out Jackson’s poignant performance of “Midnight in Montgomery” here: