Hank Williams’ ‘Lovesick Blues’: Story Behind the Song

by Madison Miller

An ode to all the lovesick lovers out there, Hank Williams is commonly known as the first artist to record the song “Lovesick Blues.”

He first recorded the hit when he joined the Louisiana Hayride in 1948. He would later record and release the song in 1949 after positive feedback.

This song was his ticket to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry that year. In addition, the song would reach No.1 on the Billboard Country and Western singles chart. It would grow to sell 11 million copies.

Who Really Recorded First?

In 1995, Emmett Miller performed the song. This version had a spoken section as well as yodeling. Then, Rex Griffin also recorded the song in 1939. He changed around the chorus and the verse in his version. These were the two versions that most inspired Williams to perform the song.

Even before Miller and Griffin, according to Country Thang Daily, the song appeared in a musical show. Then Elsie Clark recorded it in 1922.

The song was written by Irving Mills and Cliff Friend added the melody.

Career and Legacy of Williams

Despite not writing or originally performing ‘Lovesick Blues” it became his staple song. He turned the song into something completely new by singing it from a country perspective.

In 2004, the song was added to the National Recording Registry.

Hank Williams’ career was an incredibly short one. His first success, “Move It On Over” came out in 1947 and he passed away in 1953. Some of his other songs were “Cold, Cold Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” and “Take These Chains From My Heart.” His children have been re-recording some of his music and extending his legacy to today.

According to an essay added to the National Registry, Williams had 36 trips to the top of the country charts. Although he had success in music, his personal life sometimes fell short.

He had financial problems, poor personal relationships, and an ongoing health problem. Hank Williams had a drinking problem and also a prescription drug addiction. He was fired from the Grand Ole Opry for being drunk and also let go from the Louisiana Hayride.

‘Lovesick Blues’ Lives On

The tradition to play “Lovesick Blues” did not stop with Williams.

An instrumental version was recorded by Floyd Cramer in the ’60s that peaked at 87 on the charts.

In 1970, Linda Ronstadt recorded a version for her 1970 album “Silk Purse.” George Strait also released a version that would reach 24 on the country charts. Ryan Adams then released a cover in 2001 for a tribute album called “Timeless.”

Finally, the whole world became familiar with one version of the song. Country lovers or not, a viral video caused the song to come back out.

Mason Ramsey sang the song in a Walmart in Harrisburg, Illinois. He later would add this song to his EP “Famous.” This meme-worthy performance happened in 2018.