Honky Tonk Blues

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"Honky Tonk Blues"
Single by Hank Williams
from the album Moanin' the Blues
Released 1952 (1952)
Genre Country
Writer(s) Hank Williams
Hank Williams singles chronology
"Baby, We're Really in Love"<br /<(1951) "Honky Tonk Blues"
"Half as Much"

"Honky Tonk Blues" was a hit country and western song written and performed by Hank Williams. The original 1952 recording was a major hit, and it later became a hit for later-day superstar Charley Pride.

Song history[edit]

The song was about a young farmboy who leaves his father's farm for the enticements of the city, only to become worn down and disillusioned. Williams' version reached No. 2 on the Billboard magazine country best-sellers chart.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1952) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 2


The title served as the name for a documentary about Williams broadcast by PBS as part of its American Masters series.[1] The documentary was also shown at the 48th London Film Festival in 2004.[2]


Since the release of Williams' hit version, the song has been covered by Doc Watson, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (with Watson for the album Will the Circle Be Unbroken), Jason & the Scorchers and Williams' son, Hank Williams, Jr.[3]

Huey Lewis and the News covered the song on their 1983 album Sports.

In 2004, The Kentucky Headhunters also covered the song on their Big Boss Man album.

Dion Dimucci covered "Honky Tonk Blues" on his 2007 Grammy Nominated album, "Bronx in Blue".

Richard & Linda Thompson do a live version on the 2010 Deluxe Edition of Shoot Out the Lights.

Charley Pride version[edit]

"Honky Tonk Blues"
Single by Charley Pride
from the album There's a Little Bit of Hank in Me
Released January 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 1979
Genre country
Length 2:00
Label RCA
Writer(s) Hank Williams
Producer(s) Jerry Bradley, Charley Pride
Charley Pride singles chronology
"Missin' You"
"Honky Tonk Blues"
"You Win Again"

The most successful cover version was by Charley Pride; his version reached the top of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in April 1980.[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Preceded by
"Sugar Daddy"
by The Bellamy Brothers
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

April 12, 1980
Succeeded by
"It's Like We Never Said Goodbye"
by Crystal Gayle
Preceded by
"I'd Love to Lay You Down"
by Conway Twitty
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

April 26, 1980
Succeeded by
"Two Story House"
by George Jones and Tammy Wynette

Pirates of the Mississippi version[edit]

"Honky Tonk Blues"
Single by Pirates of the Mississippi
from the album Pirates of the Mississippi
Released 1990
Genre Country
Length 3:00
Label Capitol Nashville
Producer(s) James Stroud, Rich Alves
Pirates of the Mississippi singles chronology
"Honky Tonk Blues"
"Rollin' Home"

The song was also recorded as the debut single by American country music group Pirates of the Mississippi. Released in 1990, it was the first single from the album Pirates of the Mississippi. The song reached number 26 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[6] 12
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 26


  1. ^ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/williams_h.html
  2. ^ http://www.lff.org.uk/films_details.php?FilmID=455
  3. ^ Hank Williams, Jr. interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 277. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 270. 
  6. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1298." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. October 6, 1990. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  7. ^ "Pirates of the Mississippi Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Pirates of the Mississippi.

External links[edit]