Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950
A recently uncovered tape confirms that a half-hour of prime, unissued Hank Williams is something rare and special indeed. On The Garden Spot Programs, between DJ chatter and promo spots for a mail-order plant nursery, come multiple cuts of the 28-year-old C&W godhead backed by a spare, perfect combo. Williams’ eternal warbling, yodeling ache comes bolstered by warm pedal steel (perhaps Don Davis, perhaps Clell Summey) and a subsequent half-century of country music gettin’ too gosh-durned cluttered. Despite Williams’ top billing, it’s his timeless laments that are the marquee
attractions, including the wintry memoriam of “At the First Fall of Snow” (a posthumous single following Williams’ death three years later), the class-conscious pining of “A Mansion on the Hill” (much requested, per the DJ) and two takes of his No. 1 “Lovesick Blues.” The performances are casual. Williams performed at countless, nearly identical radio sessions during his brief career, and he isn’t precious, but that’s exactly what these recordings are—direct transmissions from a fast-beating and long-gone heart.