Country Throwback: Watch Hank Williams Sr. Perform ‘Cold Cold Heart’ in 1952

by Clayton Edwards

In the year before his death, Hank Williams Sr. was very active. He played shows all over the country as well as The Grand Ole Opry. He even made several television appearances.

In fact, Hank and the rest of the Grand Ole Opry troupe appeared on the Kate Smith Evening Hour three different times in 1952. Each time they appeared on the variety show, Hank would sing a song or two. In his third appearance, he performed his number-one hit “Cold Cold Heart.”

Before playing the song, he says that it has been very kind to him and his band. He explains that it is the most financially successful song they had ever released. What’s more interesting than his introduction of the song is the introduction that Hank receives before he takes the stage.

Hank Williams Performs “Cold Cold Heart”

This is an incredible performance and the fact that the footage of it still exists is miraculous.

“Cold Cold Heart” is a sad song but the whole time he’s singing it, Hank Williams looks like he’s walking on air. He was probably excited to be playing on national television again. More importantly, he was introduced by one of his heroes, Roy Acuff.

Before Hank found his own voice, he imitated Acuff’s style. He remained a fan of the singer until his death. Shortly before he died Hank told a music critic, “He’s the biggest singer this music ever knew, you booked him and you didn’t worry about crowds. For drawing power in the South, it was Roy Acuff, then God.”

So, the fact that Acuff heaped praise on him during his introduction goes a long way in explaining just how happy Hank Williams looks as he sings “Cold Cold Heart”

Instead of stepping into the emotion of the song, Hank is just enjoying the performance. In the video, he looks like the epitome of the singing cowboy. He stares straight into the camera almost for almost the entire performance. From start to finish, it’s amazing. You can see why Hank is a legend and why whit song hit the top of the charts.

From the smiling young face under that white cowboy hat, you would never guess that Hank Williams was less than a year from his grave. In fact, he looks clear-eyed in the video despite his legendary alcohol and morphine consumption. Hank left behind precious few video performances and a catalog of music that continues to influence artists and touch the hearts of fans around the globe.