On This Day: Hank Williams Records ‘Moanin’ the Blues’ in 1950

by Clayton Edwards

Hank Williams is one of the most iconic performers in country music history. For many fans of the genre, his name is synonymous with the words “classic country” for good reason. Over the course of his short career, Hank recorded songs that landed all over the spectrum of human emotion. However, many would agree that he was at his best when he was singing about heartache. Songs like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Your Cold, Cold Heart” and “Moanin’ the Blues” are iconic examples of his poetic approach to pain.

Seventy-two years ago today, Hank Williams stepped into Castle Studio in Nashville, Tennessee and recorded a handful of tunes. Among those was “Moanin’ the Blues.”

A Closer Look at This Hank Williams Classic

Hank Williams released “Moanin’ the Blues’ in October of 1950 with “Nobody’s Lonesome for Me” on the B-side. The result was a double-sided single full of pain and fans loved it. This track went on to become Hank’s fourth chart-topper.

The Fred Rose-produced track leaves plenty of space for Hank Williams to showcase his iconic vocals. You’ll hear plenty of heartbroken vibrato as well as his signature yodeling. However, that’s nothing new for ol’ Hank. One thing that sets this song apart from the rest of his catalog is the presence of a drummer on the track. “Moanin’ the Blues” and “Kaw-Liga” are the only songs in Williams’ discography to feature drums.

Two years after its release as a single, “Moanin’ the Blues” became the title track to Hank Williams’ second album. Like his first album, Hank Williams didn’t go back to the studio to record new music. Instead, Fred Rose and MGM Records compiled 10 of Williams’ previous singles into a single LP. The album featured several iconic chart-toppers including “Lovesick Blues,” “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” and “Honky Tonk Blues.” Additionally, the album contained “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” which wasn’t a hit at the time. However, it went on to be one of Hank’s signature songs.

Everybody Moans the Blues

After Hank Williams released this song, it caught the ear of listeners and artists alike. Over the years, several legendary country singers have lent their voices to the song. For instance, Marty Robbins, Hank Williams Jr., Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, and Charlie Pride all recorded covers of the song. Additionally, Hank Williams III recorded a version of the song as a posthumous duet with Hank Sr for the 1996 album Three Hanks: Men with Broken Hearts.

When Hank Jr. started as a teenager, he sang many of his father’s songs. So, it only seems fitting that Hank III made his recording debut on Three Hanks. He was just carrying on an old family tradition.