Stars Add New Tunes to Country King’s Lyrics
BOB DYLAN has long claimed Hank Williams as an influence and an inspiration. In his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles Volume One,” Mr. Dylan recounted his discovery of that country giant’s music in the 1950s. “I became aware that in Hank’s recorded songs were the archetype rules of poetic songwriting,” he wrote. “The architectural forms are like marble pillars.”
Mr. Dylan added that when he got word of Williams’s death at the age of 29 on New Year’s Day, 1953, the news “hit me squarely on the shoulder.”
“Intuitively I knew, though, that his voice would never drop out of sight or fade away,” he continued.
With a new project titled “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams,” Mr. Dylan is doing his part to keep the work of one of America’s greatest songwriters — the author of classics like “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Cold Cold Heart,” and “Hey Good Lookin’ ” — in the spotlight. The album collects the lyrics for a dozen unrecorded songs by Williams, set to melodies and recorded by an array of rock and country stars, including Jack White, Norah Jones, Merle Haggard and Sheryl Crow. “The Lost Notebooks” is being released on Oct. 4 on Mr. Dylan’s imprint, Egyptian Records, in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Columbia Records. (The only previous release on Egyptian was a 1997 group tribute to the country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.)
Artists who participated in the album, which has been in the works for almost a decade, expressed their sense of honor at being asked to complete the work of such a monumental musician. “There’s a lot of magic still left in these songs,” said Alan Jackson, who opens the album with “You’ve Been Lonesome, Too.” Ms. Jones, who sings the bluesy, melancholy “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart,” said she found the idea behind the project “really daunting,” but that “the people who were putting it together were doing it with respect and love and creativity, and I had trust in that.”