Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams song)

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"Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams song)"
Single by Hank Williams
A-side "Take These Chains from My Heart"
Released 1953
Recorded June 1, 1951, Castle Studio, Nashville
Genre Country
Length 2:49
Label MGM
Songwriter(s) Hank Williams
Producer(s) Fred Rose

"Ramblin' Man" is a song written in 1951 by Hank Williams, Sr..[1] It was released as the B-side to the 1953 #1 hit "Take These Chains from My Heart", as well as to the 1976 re-release of "Why Don't You Love Me". It is also included on the 40 Greatest Hits, a staple of his CD re-released material.


"Ramblin' Man" is one of Williams' few minor key compositions and is sung rather than spoken, unlike the other recitations he recorded as "Luke the Drifter," an alter ego created by Williams and producer Fred Rose to let jukebox operators know that the heavily moralistic recitations were not typical Hank Williams honky tonk singles. The song is notable for the simplicity of its structure, relying upon a 2-chord, minor-key, rhythm guitar figure and alternating minimal accompaniment from fiddle and steel guitar. It also features Williams' trademark "yodel." The song's three verses, all ending in the title line, are sung straight through with no pause for instrumental solos. The song tells the story of a man trapped in his drifting ways, doomed to break his lover's heart. Tales of wanderers were a common theme for Williams, and consequently, country music as a whole. The haunting spectre of the train - also a recurring image in many of Hank's compositions - is prominent. Country music historian Colin Escott speculates that the folk undertones of the recording may not have been accidental because the Weavers' hit version of Lead Belly's "Goodnight Irene" "had sparked a short-lived folk music craze, and it's possible that Hank saw the folk craze as an opportunity for Luke the Drifter."[2] Williams' version was recorded in Nashville with Fred Rose producing on June 1, 1951. He was backed by Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), Sammy Pruett (electric guitar), Jack Shook (rhythm guitar), Ernire Newton or "Cedric Rainwater," aka Howard Watts (bass), and possibly Owen Bradley (organ).[3]

The song should not be confused with Ray Pennington's song I'm a Ramblin' Man, originally recorded in 1967 and subsequently covered by Waylon Jennings, who recorded a version in 1974.

Cover versions[edit]

In Popular Culture[edit]

  • The song features in Sam Shepard's 1980 play True West, playing in the intermission at the close of Act I.