I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

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"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"
Single by Hank Williams
B-side"I Could Never Be Ashamed of You"
ReleasedNovember 1952
RecordedJune 13, 1952
StudioCastle Studio, Nashville
GenreCountry, blues
Songwriter(s)Hank Williams, Fred Rose
Hank Williams singles chronology
"Settin' the Woods on Fire"
"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"

"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" is a song written by Fred Rose and American country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams, released by Williams in 1952.


The last single to be released during Williams' lifetime, it reached #1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart posthumously in January 1953. Co-writer Fred Rose, who died a year after the song's release, played a critical role in the development of Williams' songwriting; as Colin Escott points out, it was up to Rose "to separate the gold from the dross and work with Hank to transform the best ideas into integrated, complete statements, taut with commercial logic. If Rose contributed substantially, as he did on "A Mansion on the Hill" and later "Kaw-Liga," he took half-credit; if he simply doctored Hank's songs, he didn't take a share. Rose knew that he would get the publisher's half of the royalty, and there is consensus that he was not a greedy man."

Entrance marker of the Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama

Meant to be a humorous song, as evidenced by its ironic title and chorus, the composition took on additional poignancy following Williams' death. In fact, the urban legend that the song was #1 at the time of his demise is not far from the truth, as he did in fact die in the first hours of January 1953. Williams recorded the song at Castle Studio in Nashville on June 13, 1952 with backing provided by Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), Chet Atkins (lead guitar), Chuck Wright (bass) and probably Ernie Newton (bass).[1] Atkins recalled later, "We recorded 'I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive' and after each take, he'd sit down in a chair. I remember thinking, 'Hoss, you're not jivin',' because he was so weak that all he could do was just sing a few lines, and then just fall in the chair."[2]

The song has been covered by artists such as The Delta Rhythm Boys, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Asleep at the Wheel, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams III, and The Little Willies. Steve Earle released an album titled I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive on April 26, 2011, although only the iTunes album download includes a cover of the song. Earle often covers the song in live performances.

In other media[edit]

  • In 1999 the song was used as the theme for the BBC Radio 4 comedy Married.
  • In 2008 Hank Williams' version of the song has been used as the theme for the HBO animated Comedy The Life & Times of Tim.
  • Steve Earle released his first novel on May 12, 2011, which takes its title from the song and tells the story of a doctor haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams.
  • The song was featured in the 2013 Video Game The Last of Us.

Chart performance[edit]

Hank Williams version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1952 Billboard Country Singles[3] #1


  1. ^ Escott, Colin & 2004 347.
  2. ^ Nash, Alanna 1987.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 387.