Hank by Mark Ribowsky review: live fast, love hard, die young

Many biographies have been written but none gives such detail of his drinking, sexual abandon and many misadventures as this

Hank Williams: turned country music upside down with songs that came from the deepest recesses of his being

Hank Williams: turned country music upside down with songs that came from the deepest recesses of his being

Sat, Feb 3, 2018, 00:00

   
 

Book Title:
Hank

ISBN-13:
9781631493379

Author:
Mark Ribowsky

Publisher:
Liveright

Guideline Price:
£14.99

Hank Williams was one of the earliest celebrities to “live fast, love hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory”. He turned country music upside down with songs that came from the deepest recesses of his being. Many biographies have been written about him but none gives such detail of his drinking, sexual abandon and many misadventures as this.

From a poor background, Williams hardly knew his father, overindulged in drink and drugs from an early age to deal with chronic back pain (perhaps due to undiagnosed spina bifida) and didn’t worry too much about how young his sexual partners might be.

Much of the book explores the love-hate relationship with the women in his life, especially his mother, his effective manager who kept him near to home so she could access his earnings, and his wife, with whom he constantly quarrelled. Mark Ribowsky analyses the songs well and traces Williams’s influence on rock-and-roll greats Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry but doesn’t satisfactorily explain the “mixture of bravado and fear” that he regards as the essence of his subject.