15. “Hank Williams’ Ghost” – Darrell Scott
“Some people just don’t live up to their potential,” croons Scott. Some people dream so big, it would be a miracle if they ever got there. Scott goes on to sing it’ll all work out, one way or another. If it doesn’t, we can blame it on Hank Williams’ ghost.
14. “Montgomery in the Rain” – Steve Young
Steve Young was an important part of the outlaw country movement. He has written famous songs such as “Seven Bridges Road” and “Lonesome, On’ry, and Mean.” In “Montgomery in the Rain,” which was later covered by Hank Williams, Jr., Young pays his respects to Williams, Sr., by visiting his grave.
13. “Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” – Moe Bandy
Bandy compares his life to Williams’s songs, claiming Williams must have been watching him. “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” for example, is about Brandy’s ex-wife and when Hank moans the blues, Bandy does too.
12. “The Great Hank” – Robert Earl Keen
Unlike all the other songs on this list, this one is comedic. Keen sings about one night in a small bar when he saw Williams performing in drag. When a waitress asks him about it, Williams tells her, in beautiful irony, “how he had been a big star but now country music was full of freaks.”
11. “Rollin’ & Ramblin’” – Emmylou Harris
Here’s another good old track about Hank’s life and death. It tells of how he was spurned by Nashville and traveled across the country singing, how women loved him, how he drank to dull the pain and how he died traveling to his next show. Emmylou can sing it as well as anybody.
10. “This Old Guitar” – Neil Young
For 30 years, Neil Young used one of Williams’s old guitars. This is Young’s tribute to the guitar, which served him not only as an instrument, but as a friend. The guitar has seen Young at his best, and helped him when he was at his worst. Even though they’ve spent so long together, however, Young knows that the guitar isn’t his to keep.
9. “Me & Hank & Jumpin’ Jack Flash” – Marty Stuart
Troubadour Marty Stuart simultaneously questions the state of country music and pays tribute to it in “Me & Hank & Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Stuart dreams he goes to heaven and has a chat with Williams, voicing his concern country has lost its way. Williams reassures him, saying there are a bunch of artists out there still making good music. He tells Stuart not to forget that he himself is responsible for the state of country music.
8. “Long White Cadillac” – Dwight Yoakam
This is another song adding to the mythos of Williams’s Cadillac and death. Dwight Yoakam puts himself in Williams’s shoes. Yoakam asks what drove Williams to drink and what drove him to write such sad songs. Finally, Dwight questions whether Williams’s death was even accidental.
7. “Alcohol and Pills” – Fred Eaglesmith
Fred Eaglesmith chronicles Williams’s drug addiction in this song and hypothesizes why so many stars succumb to alcohol and drugs. Fame, he argues, is a job like any other. It pays the bills. However, glory doesn’t take away the pain, and the story continues with today’s musicians.
6. “The Conversation” – Waylon Jennings & Hank Williams, Jr.
As the title suggests, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. talk about Williams, Sr. Jennings suggests they skip the habits and talk about the man instead. The man, they say, would be right there with them singing and writing songs. In fact, he’s probably singing along in heaven. This was Jennings’s first music video.
5. “The Night Hank Williams Came to Town” – Johnny Cash
The night Williams stops by to play a concert in a small town gymnasium is just about the biggest event the town has ever seen. Bigger even than the debut of I Love Lucy. It has other effects as well. The singer’s girl gets aquatinted with the Driftin’ Cowboys Band. “Gets acquainted” meaning…
4. “Hank’s Cadillac” – Ashley Monroe
In this song, Monroe chronicles all the things she could have done if she had been there the night Williams died. From keeping him up all night, to holding him as he died, things would have been different if she had been there. Oh, and Monroe wrote this song when she was just 17 years old.
3. “The Ride” – David Allen Coe
While David Allen Coe is hitchhiking from Montgomery to Nashville, he is picked up by a stranger in an antique Cadillac. It turns out it’s old Williams. He gives Coe advice about singing from the heart and warns him it isn’t easy becoming a country star. Coming from a ghost, that’s pretty haunting counsel.
2. “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” – Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson romps his way through this tribute, calling out everyone from the Allman Brothers to Willie Nelson to Linda Ronstadt. Kristofferson says, they’re all great, but if you don’t like Williams then it doesn’t matter who else you happen to like. You can kiss his a**.
1. “Midnight in Montgomery” – Alan Jackson
This is yet another song about Williams’s ghost and has equally haunting music and lyrics. While Alan Jackson sets the scene of a midnight graveyard, a steel guitar in the background moans ominously. The song references a number of Williams’s tunes, notably “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Jackson’s tribute reached No. 3 on the charts.