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Hank Williams, Sr.

eternal light

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Hank Williams, Sr. was known for closing his shows with his song,

I Saw The Light.

Williams himself, who was the original country star who set the pattern for sinning on Saturday night and seeking redemption on Sunday morning, seemingly looked into the face of eternity with the lyrics of "I Saw the Light."

He wrote it in 1948: I wandered so aimless, my life filled with sin/I wouldn't let my dear savior in/Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night/Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

The melody, ironically, is identical to that of the Chuck Wagon Gang's 1935 country gospel song "He Set Me Free." Melodies back then -- like now -- were fluid vehicles to be liberally borrowed from. Williams -- who granted virtually no interviews in his life -- never talked about the circumstances of writing that song. But his mother, Lillian, after his death, said the idea stemmed from an evening early in his career. She explained, "We was drivin' back from doin' a show in Georgiana [Alabama], and I was drivin' and Hank had his head in my lap, and he said, 'Oh, Mamma, I'm tired, so tired, but I know we're almost home because I saw the light.'" The light he mentioned was from the beacon at the airport.

Toward the end of his life, Williams was so drunk or drugged one night in San Diego that he stumbled off stage after finishing only two songs in the first show of a two-show evening gig. Minnie Pearl and the show promoter's wife drove him around town to try to sober him up enough to do the second show. They tried to get him to sing along with them to revive him. He sang only one verse of "I Saw the Light" before stopping. "Minnie," Williams said, "I don't see no light. There ain't no light."

After Williams died on his way to a Dec. 31, 1952, concert in Charleston, W.Va., and a New Years' Day show on Jan. 1, 1953, in Canton, Ohio, his Drifting Cowboys band went ahead and did the show at the Canton Memorial Auditorium. To open the show, a spotlight was shone on the curtain after the crowd was told that Hank Williams had died. His band, assembled unseen behind the curtain, sang "I Saw the Light."


I wandered so aimless , life filled with sin.

I wouldn't let my dear Saviour in.

Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night .

Praise The Lord , I saw the Light .


I saw the Light , I saw the Light ,

No more darkness , No more night .

Now I'm so happy , no sorrow in sight .

Praise the Lord, I saw the Light .

Just like the blind man, I wandered along ,

Worries and fears , I claimed for my own.

Then like the blind man, that God , gave back his sight .

Praise the Lord, I saw the Light .


I was a fool to wander and stray,

For straight is the gate and narrow the way.

Now I have traded , the wrong for the right .

Praise the Lord , I saw the Light .

-Hank Williams

Edited by eternal light
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Hank Sr was a great artist.

Check out Hank Williams, The Original Singles Collection Plus, which is a great 3-CD box set with all the essential songs.


A while back I purchased a biography called Lovesick Blues, The Life of Hank Williams, by Paul Hemphill. I haven't read it yet, but it has got quite good reviews so I'm looking forward to read it.

(uk cover)


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  • 11 years later...

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