Friday, November 09, 2007
Tough couple of weeks for fans of the type of music we dance to here at the Mountain.
First we lose Porter Wagoner, who I wrote previously about here, and who I will have a bit more to say about in late December.
And then, a couple of days ago, we lost Hank Thompson.
The Thompson death hits pretty hard.
I've referred to Hank Thompson before as one of the Holy Trinity of Hanks (with Williams Sr. and Snow).
A Texas boy, Thompson followed the traditional route to Honky Tonk stardom, hitting the talent shows, jukes, local radio shows, and state fairs, before catching the ear of someone famous (Tex Ritter in Thompson's case) and getting signed to a major recording contract. Typical stuff for your average Country superstar in the period containing the '30's through the '60's.
With his backing band, The Brazos Valley Boys, Thompson forged a mesh of hardwood honky tonk, Western Swing, and lonely weepers. He even managed an influence on Rockabilly, giving Wanda Jackson a nod and early support. Through the 1950's and the beginning half of the 1960's, Thompson racked up an obscene amount of hit singles on the Country charts.
What's most striking about Thompson is his vocal style. Not one for range, he created a languid and familiar delivery, instantly recognizable, perfect for the dance floor, the saloon at closing time, or an afternoon on the road, AM radio static through the shitty speakers in your pickup truck.
Musically, the cat could swing. Thwapping trap sets set the pace for his rave-ups, daring you to boogie, with jukey guitar and pedal steel filling in the space around Thompson's observational tones. He could send you up and take you down to your lowest nadir in the space of two and a half minutes. He could make you sweat and make you cry.
Thompson may be best known now for his clutch of classic drinking songs, and his album "A Six Pack To Go". I'm covering those today, in a double site posting, over at Barstool Mountain, naturally.
But Thompson was also a master of the "lost the girl/can't get the girl/never had the girl/the girl cheated on me" branch of the Honky Tonk nation. And these are what I've chosen to post to his memory here. I've also tossed in his most memorable "novelty" song, "Rub-A-Dub-Dub", and his version of "Oklahoma Hills", which is not only one of my favorite songs, but Thompson's take is, in this fan's humble opinion, the best version put to vinyl.
Again, head over to Barstool Mountain for Hank's drinking songs.
Hank Thompson, the Mountain salutes thee.
Hank Thompson: The Wild Side Of Life (mp3)
Hank Thompson: Luckiest Heartache In Town (mp3)
Hank Thompson: Rub-A-Dub-Dub (mp3)
Hank Thompson: I Wasn't Even In The Running (mp3)
Hank Thompson: I'm Not Mad, Just Hurt (mp3)
Hank Thompson: Oklahoma Hills (mp3)
Please support your local, independent, record emporiums.