Charley Pride Kaw-Liga
Screengrab via YouTube

Country Rewind: Charley Pride Sings Hank Williams Medley With Tammy Wynette + More

Charley Pride has always sounded amazing while covering Hank Williams, with examples of this trend including a 1969 medley from the Johnny Cash Show and Pride's 1980 tribute album There's a Little Bit of Hank in Me. This trend impacted the charts in those years, with Pride's cover of "Kaw-Liga" cracking the Top 5 during 1969 and his versions of "Honky Tonk Blues" and "You Win Again" both reaching No. 1 in 1980.

A third noteworthy instance where Pride paid homage to the songs of Williams came during this televised all-star team-up from 1983. Pride joins Tammy Wynette, Janie Fricke and Charly McClain for a five-song medley: "Kaw-Liga," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Honky Tonk Blues," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)."

The quartet swaps vocals, with McLain, the first artist to record future Alan Jackson hit 'Who's Cheatin' Who," reminding us of her immense talents when she sings lead on "Your Cheatin' Heart." Later in the video, Fricke holds her own while helping Wynette sing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," which is about as nice a thing as you can say about any country music singer from any decade.

It was a great time for Pride when it came to cover songs. For instance, his version of oldies standard "Mountain of Love" reached No. 1 on the country charts in 1981. That's not to overshadow the equally great, fresh material he'd cut in the early '80s, namely 1981's "Roll on Mississippi," which furthered a legacy built off "The Snakes Crawl at Night," "Just Between You and Me," "All I Have to Offer You is Me," "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'."

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Looping back to "Kaw-Liga," it's one of the few songs Williams co-wrote with his producer and publisher, Fred Rose. Its name and theme come from the central Alabama community Kowaliga. There's a wooden statue of a Native American there on Lake Martin. In the song, that statue falls in love with an "Indian maid over in the antique store." Kaw-Liga won't admit to his crush, though, seeing as he's "Too stubborn to ever show a sign/Because his heart was made of knotty pine."

The original version of "Kaw-Liga" was recorded as part of Williams' final sessions in Sept. 1952. It was released after Williams' Jan. 1, 1953 death and reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

In 1980, Hank Williams Jr. kicked off a fiscally lucrative decade by making "Kaw-Liga" one of his better better celebrations of Hank Williams Sr.'s classic country songs.

"Kaw-Liga" Lyrics

KAW-LIGA, was a wooden Indian standin' by the door
He fell in love with an Indian maid over in the antique store
KAW-LIGA , just stood there and never let it show
So she could never answer "YES" or "NO".

He always wore his Sunday feathers and held a tomahawk
The maiden wore her beads and braids and hoped someday he'd talk
KAW-LIGA , too stubborn to ever show a sign
Because his heart was made of knotty pine.

Poor ol' KAW-LIGA, he never got a kiss
Poor ol' KAW-LIGA, he don't know what he missed
Is it any wonder that his face is red
KAW-LIGA, that poor ol' wooden head.

KAW-LIGA, was a lonely Indian never went nowhere
His heart was set on the Indian maiden with the coal black hair
KAW-LIGA, just stood there and never let it show
So she could never answer "YES" or "NO".

Then one day a wealthy customer bought the Indian maid
And took her, oh, so far away, but ol' KAW-LIGA stayed
KAW-LIGA, just stands there as lonely as can be
And wishes he was still an old pine tree.

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