'Hank Williams: The Biography' by Colin Escott     BOOK: HANK WILLIAMS

'Hank Williams: The Biography' by Colin Escott BOOK: HANK WILLIAMS

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HANK WILLIAMS The Biography by Colin Escott (Little, Brown & Co, 1994) 308 pp. Colin Escott, whose fine notes have graced numerous country music CDs in recent years, has done a remarkable job in putting the life & music of Williams into perspective. Of the two great legends of country music, it has always seemed that facts about Williams have been harder to come by than good information on Jimmie Rodgers, despite the fact that Williams was still with us in the 1950s. In an easily read, well-presented account, Escott has sorted through the mountains of misinformation, hype and self-serving words of those who knew, worked and lived with Williams in his short life (it’s still hard to believe he was only 29 when he died). Escott does not dwell on the sordid aspects of Hank’s life, nor does he limit his efforts just to his music—he covers everything in sensible fashion, giving us the best idea to date of what made this man tick and the baggage that he had to carry throughout his short life. Escott is especially adept at discussing Williams’ recordings-tracing the pedigrees of almost every song, and tying these in with the personalities of the period, other artists, songwriters and the music industry people. He brings out some very interesting and previously unseen data—sales figures of song folios and certain recordings, for instance. And though his discography fails to list session personnel, it is still the most useful to date in dealing with Hank’s very complex recording history. If there’s a fault in Escott’s work it may be that he is over-critical of Hank’s more ordinarily compositions and his Luke the Drifter material, which Escott seems to have little use for. But this is a superb and needed work, and gets our highest recommendation. (Hardbound)