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Posts Tagged ‘1940s’

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is American songwriter Hank Williams. Williams is probably better known and more revered in the USA than in the Disunited Kingdom, but no less than Bob Dylan referred to him in a 1991 interview as “the best songwriter”.

Williams was born in Alabama in 1923, and died in 1953 in a car accident at the tragically young age of 29 (***correction – he died whilst travelling in a car, not from a car accident***). But, during a brief recording history he had 31 songs in the US Country charts top 10 between 1947 and 1953, and is considered to be one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century. Some of his better known songs are “Hey Good Lookin'”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “I Saw the Light” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Hank Williams.

The song I have decided to share in this blogpost is his 1951 song “Cold Cold Heart”. This was released as the B-side to the single “Dear John”.

I tried so hard,my dear,to show that you’re my every dream
Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn’t do
In anger, unkind words are said that make the teardrops start
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

You’ll never know how much it hurts to see you sit and cry
You know you need and want my love, yet you’re afraid to try
Why do you run and hide from life, to try it just ain’t smart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you, the more we drift apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?

Here is a video of Williams performing “Cold Cold Heart” live on TV. Enjoy!

Which is your favourite Hank Williams song?

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At number 28 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters is Woody Guthrie. I wonder how many of you reading this, particularly non-Americans, have heard of Woody Guthrie? I first heard of him when I became interested in Bob Dylan; he was a hero of the young Dylan and, in fact, Dylan wrote a song of tribute to him on his first album, “Song for Woody”.

Guthrie was born in Oklahoma in 1912, and so lived through the depression of the 1930s in a state which was particularly blighted by the depression and the ‘dust-bowl’. This led to thousands of farmers and their families from Oklahoma leaving for California (this story is the basis of John Steinbeck’s wonderful novel The Grapes of Wrath). Living through these dismal years had a long-lasting effect on Guthrie, and he spent a career as a folk-singer and activist championing the rights of downtrodden people.



At number 28 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Woody Guthrie.

At number 28 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time is Woody Guthrie.



Probably Guthrie’s best known song is “This Land is Our Land”, a song which has been translated into many languages, including into Welsh. Guthrie wrote this song in 1940, basing the lyrics to fit with an existing melody. He then altered the lyrics in 1944, which is when he first recorded it, and it was released in 1945. You can read more about the two different versions of the song here on its Wikipedia page.


This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.




Here is a video of Guthrie performing this song. Enjoy!




Which is your favourite Woody Guthrie song?

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