Some of you may know, of all things, that I was nominated for a Grammy this year along with Co-producer Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital for the project "Take Me to the Water." This is a personal post, and one which I hope to avoid boasting or gloating.
I don't remember when New Years Day began to mean the day Hank Williams died to me, but I do remember writing a poem about it way back in High School. You see, I was born the same year Hank died on New Years day. He was riding in the back seat of a car being driven to a gig. I believe he was wearing his boots, or at least I like to think he was, and I've always imagined them crossed and propped up against the car door as he rested on his back and got some sleep. I think he was alive at midnight, but was gone with the light of the new year. The next year, Elvis made his first recordings. So as a baby I was able to share a life with both events, something I am proud of but which came about through no choice of my own. Pure dumb luck. How lucky am I to be able to say "the soundtrack of my life" began with Hank and Elvis?
I always favored Hank's "Luke the Drifter" songs best, the pseudonym he used for his gospel and religious material. I've said many times over the last 6 months, while talking about "Take Me to the Water," that artists perform harder when they are singing of their faith. I first realized this because of Hank's Luke the Drifter way back as a boy. He may have been the first Honky Tonker, but it was his Sunday morning material which moved me the most. I also believe it was an outlet he felt necessary to save his own soul.
Today as I helped move both of my parents to safer, more assisted living, I took some time to think about Hank, as I always do, but this year it was a deeper, more grateful appreciation. It was how fortunate I have been to share New Years with his soul...because my beautiful pair of loving parents somehow timed my arrival to be able to say it...and that on this very day I am able to still feel his presence even as I accept the difficult and taxing fact that my folks are waning profoundly this holiday. That it came in the same year as a nomination I never thought I would be able to receive has made this the most memorable New Years day ever.