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Dan Barth

The Day After Hank Williams' Birthday

It's the day after Hank Williams' birthday and you're sitting at the kitchen table after breakfast and a song starts to run through you and the song goes, "Move it on over, move on over/ Move over little dog 'cause the big dog's movin' in."

It's the day after Hank Williams' birthday. He would have been 81 this year if he had not died before he hit 30. You are waterproofing the front deck and a song starts running through your head and the song goes, "You're my gal and I'm your feller/Dress up in your frock of yeller/I'll look swell but you'll look sweller/Settin' the woods on fire."

It's the day after Hank Williams' birthday. He would have been 81 this year if he hadn't died on January 1, 1953 from too much morphine and whiskey in the back seat of his Cadillac on the way from Knoxville, Tennessee to Canton, Ohio. You pumped up the low tire on the riding mower and got the leaf-catcher attachment out of the shed and put it on and started the mower. Now you're picking up leaves and a song starts vibrating through you and the song goes, "Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh/Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou/My Yvonne the sweetest one, me oh my oh/Son of a
gun we'll have big fun on the bayou."

It's the day after Hank Williams' birthday. Hank is still well-remembered 51 years after his death. He wrote 125 songs in the time allotted to him, though some say he only wrote two--a fast one and a slow one. They all have different lyrics though and the lyrics are great. You are sitting around watching the Giants vs. Padres baseball game on tv and a song starts running in your head and the song goes, "I got a hot rod Ford and a two dollar bill/And I know a spot right over the hill/There's soda pop and thedancin's free/So if you wanna have fun come along with me."

It's the day after Hank Williams' birthday in the year most of us have agreed to call 2004. The world situation is a mess--most of us agree on that too. The world is an incredible mix of very pleasant pleasurable beautiful lovely things and very ugly violent sordid horrible things. Hank Williams knew the world and walked in it and drove and wrote and sang and loved and drank. His son went on to become a musician and his daughter and grandson did too. You are sitting around, shank of the evening, sipping a bourbon and ginger ale, working the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, and a clue suggests a song which starts running through your head and the song goes, "No matter how I struggle and strive/I'll never get out of thisworld alive."

Yeah, no matter how you struggle and strive, you'll never get out of this world alive.

Thank you and Happy New Year!



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