The Corner

A Word from the Hankologist

Someone’s asked me, “as NRO’s resident Hankologist,” whether Hank Williams Sr. was right or left.

Neither, I’d say. I don’t believe Hank had a political bone in his body. I doubt he ever bothered to vote.

There have been attempts to recruit him posthumously into the political left — by, for example, Kris Kristofferson at 23m 52s on that marvellous DVD I recommend to everyone. The hook here is the “Luke the Drifter” songs Hank wrote near the end of his life, some of which skirt Woody Guthrie territory:

Just a picture from life’s other side.

Someone has fell by the way.

A life has gone out with the tide

That might have been happy some day …

Seems to me you have to squeeze hard to wring any politics out of those lyrics, though. To the degree he was “socially aware” (Kristofferson’s phrase), Hank’s impulses sprang from love-the-poor Christianity, not eat-the-rich socialism — Mark, not Marx. Hank had been steeped in religion all through his childhood. He doesn’t seem to have gotten much comfort from it, but it formed his outlook on social issues, to the slight degree he had one.


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