Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash and George Jones have all inspired such current alt-country renegades as Ryan Adams, the Jayhawks and Old 97's. Original country maverick Hank Williams, however, arguably remains the most influential figure for anyone who's ever picked a twangy guitar and cried in his or her beer about sour love and hard times.
Several of Williams' more successful descendants including Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Tom Petty and Beck have recorded tracks for the tribute album Timeless (see "Dylan, Emmylou Harris To Pay Tribute To Hank Williams"), which is scheduled for release September 25, eight days after what would have been Williams' 78th birthday.
Williams died at age 29 following a short yet highly influential life of excess and indulgence. During the four years prior to his death, however, he virtually wrote the country-music handbook, crafting a long string of hits including "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," which is interpreted by Sheryl Crow on Timeless, and "Cold, Cold Heart," which Lucinda Williams covers on the album.
Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris team up for "Lost on the River," Beck covers "Your Cheatin' Heart," Keith Richards plays "You Win Again" and Williams' grandson, Hank Williams III, sings "I'm a Long Gone Daddy."
Timeless was produced by Luke Lewis, president of Lost Highway Records, which is releasing the album. In addition to the tribute, the coffee-table book "Hank Williams: Snapshots From the Lost Highway," is scheduled for October publication by Da Capo Press.
The Timeless track list, according to the project's publicist:
- Beck - "Your Cheatin' Heart"
- Hank Williams III - "I'm a Long Gone Daddy"
- Emmylou Harris - "Alone and Forsaken"
- Bob Dylan - "I Can't Get You Off of My Mind"
- Lucinda Williams - "Cold, Cold Heart"
- Sheryl Crow - "Long Gone Lonesome Blues"
- Keb' Mo' - "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
- Keith Richards - "You Win Again"
- Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris - "Lost on the River"
- Tom Petty - "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)"
- Johnny Cash - "I Dreamed About Mama Last Night"
- Ryan Adams - "Lovesick Blues"