If we are to list all of Hank Williams’ hits, many of us will definitely put “I Saw the Light,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and “Hey, Good Lookin’” on the top. While these three tunes are definitely among the bunch of his hits, who could ever forget and miss his emotional “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry?” It is a song that is full of emotions and even the late Elvis Presley called it the “saddest song” he has ever heard.
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry:” A Classic American Song Ever Written
Recorded and released in 1949, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is a melancholic tune written and popularized by Hank Williams. This song has become widely popular, hence, it has been rendered by various artists.
Upon its release in 1949, this single charted at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Singles where it became the B-side of “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It.” Seventeen years later, in 1966, it again entered the same chart at No. 43.
In 2003, 50 years after Williams’ death, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” ranked No. 29 in CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.
Furthermore, other versions of different artists followed in and charted on different music genres. B. J. Thomas’ cover placed No. 8 on the Billboard Pop Singles in 1966. Meanwhile, Charlie McCoy’s reached No. 23 on the Billboard Country Singles in 1972.
On the other hand, Leon Russell’s version, which was credited to Hank Wilson, charted at No. 78 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. And, Jerry Lee Lewis’ went No. 43 on the country charts in 1982.
Here is the original version of the song:
The Conception of the Song and Its Inspiration
For those of you who don’t know what made Hank Williams write the song, this is the right place for you. According to Colin Escott’s 2004 book titled Hank Williams: A Biography, Williams took the inspiration to conceive the song when he found it on a schedule of upcoming MGM releases.
On August 30, 1949, Williams recorded the song at Herzog Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Singing as the lead vocals, Williams was backed up by the members of the Pleasant Valley Boys.
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” has become closely identified with Williams’ musical legacy. Also, it has been widely praised for its pure country sound with a touch of blues.
In 2003, country-rock singer k.d. lang said:
“I think ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ is one of the most classic American songs ever written, truly.Beautiful song.”
On the other hand, in his autobiography, Bob Dylan recalls,
“Even at a young age, I identified with him. I didn’t have to experience anything that Hank did to know what he was singing about. I’d never heard a robin weep, but could imagine it and it made me sad.”
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 111 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the oldest song on the list. Also, the song clinched the No. 3 spot on its 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.
Terry Bradshaw Covers the Song in 1976
A former American football quarterback, Terry Bradshaw recorded his version of the song in 1976. During that time, he was still a part and the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His cover was equally praised with that of Williams that it charted on the Billboard Country Singles at No. 17.