I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
Single by Hank Williams With His Drifting Cowboys
A-side"My Bucket's Got a Hole in It"[1]
PublishedOctober 31, 1949 Acuff-Rose Publications[2]
ReleasedNovember 8, 1949
RecordedAugust 30, 1949[3]
StudioHerzog Studio, Cincinnati
GenreHillbilly, Honky-tonk, Country blues
LabelMGM 10560
Songwriter(s)Hank Williams
Hank Williams With His Drifting Cowboys singles chronology
"You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)"
"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
"I Just Don't Like This Kind of Living"

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is a song written and recorded by American country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams in 1949. The song has been covered by a wide range of musicians.

Authorship and production[edit]

Various writers quoted Williams as saying he wrote the song originally intending the words be spoken rather than sung, as he had done on several of his Luke the Drifter recordings.[4] According to Colin Escott's 2004 book: Hank Williams: A Biography, the inspiration for the song came from the title to a different song Williams spotted on a list of forthcoming MGM record releases. The song was recorded on August 30, 1949, at Herzog Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Williams was backed by members of the Pleasant Valley Boys: Zeke Turner (lead guitar), Jerry Byrd (steel guitar) and Louis Innis (rhythm guitar), as well as Tommy Jackson (fiddle) and Ernie Newton (bass).[5]


Music journalist Chet Flippo and Kentucky historian W. Lynn Nickell have both asserted that 21-year-old Kentuckian Paul Gilley wrote the lyrics, then sold them to Williams along with the rights, allowing Williams to take credit for it. Gilley also supposedly wrote the lyrics to "Cold, Cold Heart" and other hit country songs before drowning at the age of 27.[6] The claims have not been widely accepted.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

The song was released as the B-side to the blues "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It", because up-tempo numbers were deemed more appropriate for the jukebox trade than melancholy ballads. The single reached number four on the country chart in 1949.[8]

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" has been identified with Williams's musical legacy, and has been widely praised. In the 2003 documentary The Road to Nashville, singer k.d. lang stated: "I think 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' is one of the most classic American songs ever written, truly. Beautiful song." In his autobiography, Bob Dylan recalled: "Even at a young age, I identified with him. I didn't have to experience anything that Hank did to know what he was singing about. I'd never heard a robin weep, but could imagine it and it made me sad."[9] In its online biography of Williams, Rolling Stone notes:

In tracks like "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", Williams expressed intense, personal emotions with country's traditional plainspoken directness, a then-revolutionary approach that has come to define the genre through the works of subsequent artists from George Jones and Willie Nelson to Gram Parsons and Dwight Yoakam.

Rolling Stone ranked it number 111 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the oldest song on the list, and number 3 on its 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.

Notable cover versions[edit]

Many musical artists have covered the song:

Chart performance[edit]

Hank Williams version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1949 Billboard Country Singles B-side of "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It"
1966 Billboard Country Singles No. 43

Williams' version ranked No. 29 in CMT's 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music in 2003.


  1. ^ Escott, Merritt & MacEwen 2004, p. 125.
  2. ^ "U.S. Copyright Office Virtual Card Catalog". vcc.copyright.gov. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  3. ^ "Hank Williams 45rpm Issues". jazzdiscography.com. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
  4. ^ Escott, Merritt & MacEwen 2004, p. 124.
  5. ^ Escott, Merritt & MacEwen 2004.
  6. ^ Chet Flippo (1997). Your Cheatin' Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams (revised ed.). Plexo. pp. 7, 130, 150. ISBN 9780859652322.; KET - Kentucky Educational Television (29 July 2013). "Songwriter Paul Gilley - Kentucky Life - KET". YouTube. Retrieved 8 August 2018.; "New biography on Morgan Co. songwriter Paul Gilley". Appalachian Attitude. WMMT 88.7 Mountain Community Radio. July 2, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2018.; Staff (June 6, 2012). "E.Ky. writer penned two of Hank Sr.'s biggest hits". The Mountain Eagle. Whitesburg, Kentucky.
  7. ^ Tennessee Walt [Geyden Wren], (2020) “The Curious Case of Paul Gilley”, Tennessee Walt. (Accessed: March 25, 2023): “… there are a small number of people who, quite sincerely, believe that—at least in the case of ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ (1949) and ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ (1951)—the answer is Paul Gilley.”
  8. ^ Hank Williams, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" Chart Positions, Musicvf.com, Retrieved March 31, 2014
  9. ^ Dylan, Bob (7 July 2011). Chronicles. Simon and Schuster. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-85720-958-0.
  10. ^ "Hot Country Songs". Billboard.


  • Escott, Colin; Merritt, George; MacEwen, William (2004). Hank Williams: The Biography. New York: Little, Brown.