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14 April 2016

Light Was Seen, But Reason Why Was a Little Unclear

We made it to the new movie I Saw the Light: The Story of Hank Williams.  It is based on Colin Escott's book Hank Williams: The Biography, continuously in print from its original publication in 1994 through its updating (with previously unpublished photographs!) ten years later.  When this film actually looked like it was going to be made and released, the title was changed to match the film and the book was re-published last year, in 2015.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to tell you that again, the book is better than the movie.  If you haven't read the book and you are not a big Hank Williams fan, you will be watching a series of interesting period vignettes and snippets of some good music and wondering:  Who is Hank Williams's half-brother Luke and why didn't we see him in the movie, or did we?  Why was Hank so taken by Billie, whom we think we saw in one earlier moment when she asks him why doesn't he write a song about her? Why was he so keen on getting to the Grand Ole Opry and then, had problems with getting to all the scheduled performances and with the management whom he said was only concerned with making money? What happened after the meeting with MGM of possibly signing to appear in a movie with Jane Powell, but Hank silently refused to remove his hat?  Why was he silently refusing to remove his hat?  All this and more to be revealed not by the movie but possibly by the book.  I know that filmmakers say they often have to leave things out in order to keep the flow, but the movie didn't flow, anyway, so, the reason is a little obscure.

"I Saw the Light" was a hymn which Hank Williams wrote.  It was in fact so old-fashionedly hymn-like that our own Larry thought this song was an old hymn which Williams had simply made more known through singing it.  One never thinks that someone in modern history actually writes a hymn, about the same as thinking folk songs wrote themselves, and mistaking songs written by Stephen Foster as words and melodies which sort of solidified out of the hardships of cotton field and frontier trail (not something accused of Larry Dunphy, however).


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