In 1950, Hank Williams and fellow Grand Ole Opry stars George Morgan and Milton Estes recorded programs in Nashville for Garden Spot, a Texas-based plant-nursery company. Most recently released Williams radio and stage performances were known to historians and collectors, but these four programs, in pristine sound, were only discovered last year.
The repertoire blends hits (“Lovesick Blues,” “Mansion On The Hill,” “Mind Your Own Business”), ballads (“I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye”), and gospel – both original (“Jesus Remembered Me”) and timeless (“Farther Along”).
“Mind Your Own Business” includes some sardonic lyrics not on the studio version. Hank’s elemental rhythm guitar drives the music, but the Drifting Cowboys, especially the distinct, upper-register steel guitar of Don Helms, are conspicuously absent. Hank, Morgan, and Estes probably used the same sidemen here.
It’s likely Don Davis playing the subtle steel accompaniment on “Lovesick Blues,” “Wedding Bells,” and “Farther Along.” On “I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye” and “I Don’t Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes),” the primitive amplified licks sound like Estes sideman Clell Summey, who’d been Roy Acuff’s first Dobro player.
Hank’s well known demons aside, his performances here are loose, yet focused and intense.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s September ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.