Who doesn’t know the song “I Saw the Light?” Even if this tune has been first popularized in the 1940s, it’s likely that recent generations of listeners are aware of it due the countless versions of the song made year after year. Country superstar Josh Turner made the most recent cover for Hank Williams’ song that has become a country gospel standard. It was Roy Acuff who first covered it in 1947. Since then, numerous artists from various music genres recorded their version of “I Saw the Light.” Country legends Ernest Tubb, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Crystal Gale are among the famous names we can cite as examples.
Josh Turner’s Version
Last October, Josh Turner released his gospel album I Serve A Savior. The album, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums charts, comprises of 12 tracks, most of them are covers of classic gospel tunes. His version of “I Saw the Light” was one of those gospel music standards included on the collection. The recording features Sonya Isaacs of the bluegrass Southern gospel music group The Isaacs. This is one of the songs on Turner’s album that features the 44-year-old singer. The other song was the classic “How Great Thou Art.”
Turner and Isaacs had the opportunity to sing the song live at the Grand Ole Opry last November.
Watch their soulful duet performance below.
The Inspiration of the Song
Hank Williams got his inspiration for “I Saw the Light” from his mother. They were on their way from a show in Fort Deposit, Alabama in January 1947. As they were arriving home in Montgomery, his mother mentioned a line that struck a chord in him. Seeing the lights of Dannelly Field Airport, his mother said, “I saw the light,” prompting him to get up from his sleep at the backseat of the car. His mom’s words remained on his mind and shortly after that scenario, Williams wrote a song about it. He made use of her exact words as the title of his song.
The country legend’s first attempt to record the song he wrote was during his first session with MGM Records. This took place on April 21, 1947. It was only after more than a year later though that his record was out. For this reason, Williams’ version came second only to Clyde Grubb whose record was out in October 1947. While the song did not reach commercial success, it has become one of Williams’ most famous songs.