I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

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"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.

Hank Williams version[edit]

According to Colin Escott's 2004 book Hank Williams: A Biography, Williams was inspired to write the song when he found it[clarification needed] on a schedule of upcoming MGM releases. The song was recorded on August 30, 1949, at Herzog Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. Williams is 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).[4] As Escott observed, the plaintive despair in Williams's voice on the recording is echoed by the backing of the musicians:

Zeke Turner underpinned "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" with recurring figures on the bass strings of the electric guitar. A few weeks earlier, Turner had led the backing on the Delmore Brothers' recording of "Blues Stay Away From Me" using very similar licks... Jerry Byrd played a solo of unusual simplicity, paraphrasing the melody to haunting effect, subtly adjusting tone and volume. Hank sang with unshakable conviction.[citation needed]

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.[5]

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" has become closely 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."[6] 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 three on its 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.


Music journalist Chet Flippo and Kentucky historian W. Lynn Nickell have each claimed how 19-year-old Kentuckian Paul Gilley wrote the lyrics, then sold the song to Williams along with the rights, allowing Williams to take credit for it. They stated that Gilley also wrote the lyrics to "Cold, Cold Heart" and other songs before drowning at age 27.[7][8][9][10] However, Williams said he wrote the song originally intending that the words be spoken, rather than sung, as he had done on several of his Luke the Drifter recordings.[11]

Cover versions[edit]

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.

B. J. Thomas version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1966 Billboard Hot 100 No. 8

Charlie McCoy version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1972 Billboard Country Singles No. 23

Leon Russell version (credited to Hank Wilson)[edit]

Year Chart Position
1973 Billboard Hot 100 No. 78

Terry Bradshaw version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1976 Billboard Country Singles No. 17
1976 Billboard Hot 100 No. 91

Jerry Lee Lewis version[edit]

Year Chart Position
1982 Billboard Country Singles No. 43


  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". www.hankwilliamsdiscography.com. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
  4. ^ Escott, Merritt & MacEwen 2004.
  5. ^ Hank Williams, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" Chart Positions, Musicvf.com, Retrieved March 31, 2014
  6. ^ Dylan, Bob (7 July 2011). Chronicles. Simon and Schuster. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-85720-958-0.
  7. ^ KET - Kentucky Educational Television (29 July 2013). "Songwriter Paul Gilley - Kentucky Life - KET". YouTube. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  8. ^ "New biography on Morgan Co. songwriter Paul Gilley". Appalachian Attitude. WMMT 88.7 Mountain Community Radio. July 2, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  9. ^ Staff (June 6, 2012). "E.Ky. writer penned two of Hank Sr.'s biggest hits". The Mountain Eagle. Whitesburg, Kentucky.
  10. ^ Chet Flippo (1997). Your Cheatin' Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams (revised ed.). Plexo. pp. 7, 130, 150. ISBN 9780859652322.
  11. ^ Escott, Merritt & MacEwen 2004, p. 124.
  12. ^ "Temple Bar - John Waite | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  13. ^ "[Akiko Yano Official Website] Discographies". Akikoyano.com. Retrieved 2016-11-14.


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