Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Hot Rod Ford And A Two Dollar Bill

The filmmaker's camera pans the single street of a desolate north Texas town as a the ripping wind of a blue norther flings vague clouds of dust and debris in random directions. The camera rests on a truck coughing and backfiring futilely. So begins Peter Bogdanovich's great film The Last Picture Show. In the truck, Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) stomps on the clutch, shoves in the starter, and rubs his frozen hands. The wind rips endlessly. Sonny pauses to turn up the radio: It's Hank Williams singing "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do." Sonny works the starter again, the protesting engine finally starts, and the truck pulls away from the curb.

Ever since I saw that scene, I like to listen to Hank Williams in my car, preferably when its cold out. It's the ideal way to appreciate his stark vision of loneliness and disappointment. Has anything ever evoked the feelings of frustration and resignation than that mournful, inimitable voice wondering "Why can't I free your doubtful mind/And melt your cold cold heart"? "Ramblin' Man" might be the spookiest song I've ever heard, especially when I'm driving alone on a cold dark night. There's nothing like it.

Now, thanks to Time-Life Records, I can listen to Hank's actual radio broadcasts. They've released 3 CDs of songs he recorded for a Sunday morning program. As such, there's a preponderance of gospel, most of which I've never heard. I'm only through one CD so I'm not ready to review it, but so for I'd give it about seven stars out of a possible five...

The opening seven minutes of The Last Picture Show:

And, yes, that's  21-year old Jeff Bridges at the end of the clip.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

My dad was a big Hank Williams (Jr. & Sr.) fan. He loved to sing and he used to sing their songs to me as well of those of a lot of other artists. This song has always touched my heart. Thank you for sharing it with us.