Honky Tonkin'

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"Honky Tonkin'"
Single by Hank Williams
B-side "I'll Be a Bachelor 'Til I Die"
Released January 1948
Format 10" single (MGM 10171)
Recorded November 6, 1947, Castle Studio, Nashville
Genre Country, blues
Label MGM Records
Writer(s) Hank Williams
Producer(s) Fred Rose
Hank Williams singles chronology
"My Sweet Love Ain't Around" (1948) "Honky Tonkin'" (1948) "I'm a Long Gone Daddy" (1948)

"Honky Tonkin'" is a 1948 country music song, written and recorded by Hank Williams. His song went to #14 on the Billboard country music charts. In 1982 it became the sixth chart topping single for Williams' son, Hank Williams, Jr.

First version[edit]

Hank Williams released two versions of "Honky Tonkin'." The first was cut at his second and final recording session for Sterling Records on February 13, 1947 and features backing by Tommy Jackson (fiddle), Dale "Smokey" Lohman (steel guitar), Zeke Turner (electric guitar) and Louis Innis (bass).[1] The song, which appeared as "Honkey-Tonkey" in Williams' first song folio,[1] was chosen by producer Fred Rose as the B-side to "Pan American" after Hank had achieved success with two singles of mostly spiritual material on Sterling. While the subject matter is straight barroom fare in the Ernest Tubb tradition, the song is musically unusual, remaining in the same chord for fifteen and a half of its sixteen bars. According to Colin Escott's 2004 biography on the singer, the original draft featured the lines, "We are going to the city, to the city fair/We'll get a quart of whiskey and get up in the air," which the commercially-minded Rose had Hank change to ""We're going to the city, to the city fair/If you go to the city, baby, you will find me there."[1]

Second version[edit]

Surprised by the success of the unknown Williams, and equally impressed with the raw talent of the young songwriter, Rose got him a contract with MGM that was finalized on April 1, 1947. On November 6, 1947, Williams recut Honky Tonkin' at Castle Studio in Nashville with backing from Robert "Chubby" Wise (fiddle), Jerry Byrd (steel guitar), Zeke Turner (lead guitar), and probably Louis Innis on bass and either Owen Bradley or Rose on piano.[1] The second recording of the song is more vibrant than the first, likely owing to the better recording facilities and the chemistry that had developed between Williams and Rose. To avoid confusion, Rose bought all the Sterling singles of "Honky Tonkin'" on May 17, 1947 for two thousand dollars and then sold them to MGM.[2] Williams had enjoyed his first Top 5 hit with "Move It on Over" but "Honky Tonkin'" did not fare as well, failing to make the Top 10. Billboard praised the single's "deft ork beat."

Cover versions[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 6


  1. ^ a b c d Escott, Colin & 2004 60.
  2. ^ Escott, Colin & 2004 91.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 389. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I Don't Care" by Ricky Skaggs
Billboard Hot Country Singles number-one single
August 7, 1982
Succeeded by
"I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home" by David Frizzell