Hank Williams: The Garden Spot Programs, 1950

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The Garden Spot Programs, 1950
(Omnivore Recordings)

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It’s the old The Garden Spot Programs from 1950 featuring the immortal Hank Williams that we are treated to with this 24-song album.  There are four different Garden Spot short radio concerts here and the first batch of six songs begins with the show’s radio intro, then Hank kicking in with his country warbling yodel on the classic, and slightly naughty, “Lovesick Blues” and the equally sad (and even more classic) “A Mansion On the Hill,” both of which feature the at times sounding Hawaiian/at times deep country holler pedal steel. We get Hank’s fiddler tearing it up on “Fiddle Tune” and him leading the band on the very slow “I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye,” a real tear-jerker, showcasing one of the better Williams vocals here. The show closes with the classic (another fiddle-led instrumental) “Oh! Susanna.”

I love the snarky “Mind Your Own Business” that begins the second show, again the fiddler  is up front here as is pedal steel, not to mention Hank’s telling-you-off vocal. Yes, we get “Lovesick,” ”Fiddle Tune,” and “Oh! Susanna” again, but this show sees a real slow yodeler with some unique pedal steel accents on “At the First Fall Of Snow.”

The third show opens with “I Can’t You Off of My Mind.” This mid-tempo two-timing-lover-leaving tune is a “new” song as Hank tells us. Things get fun with the an upbeat “novelty” song (as Hank calls it), “I’ll Be A Bachelor ‘Till I Die.” With great lines like “I’m afraid of church bells, how they scare me when they chime,” and “I’ve seen what matrimony has done to better men than me,” this is classic wry country stuff. But then, Williams gives us the poignancy of one who got away on “Wedding Bells.”

You’d be hard pressed to find better classic country than Hank Williams in this period or during any time in his iconic career. Surely you don’t need proof like this to know the man is a Grade A American treasure, but it’s nice to have little historic gems like The Garden Spot Programs, that have not been heard in over six decades actually, to remind us.

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