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Album: 40 Greatest HitsReleased: 1953
Williams wrote this shortly after divorcing his wife, Audrey Mae Sheppard. They married in 1944, while the ink was still drying on Audrey's divorce papers from her first marriage. The pair would go on to record several duets together (and produce a son, Hank Williams Jr.), but Williams' drinking ultimately caused irreparable rift in their marriage.
When he described his first wife as "a cheatin' heart" to country singer Billie Jean Jones, who would soon become his second wife, he was inspired to write the song.
Williams recorded this in September 1952 during what would be his last session at Nashville's Castle Records. He would die just months later from heart problems (or, some say, suspicious circumstances) on the way to a New Year's concert in Canton, Ohio. The song was posthumously released in January 1953 and topped the Country & Western Billboard Charts for six weeks.
Many artists have covered this over the years, including Louis Armstrong, Glen Campbell, Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Ray Charles' 1962 version was a hit in both the US and the UK, peaking at #29 and #13, respectively.
Rat Pack member Joey Bishop recorded this in the '60s on the album Cold, Cold, Heart. Bishop was an actor, and many people considered his version so bad it was actually entertaining. On the album cover, Bishop is dressed in a rhinestone cowboy costume. It contains liner notes by fellow Rat Packer Dean Martin. (thanks, Barry Kesten - Bellmore, MD)
For the line "You'll walk the floor, the way I do," Williams took inspiration from his friend Ernest Tubb's "Walkin' the Floor Over You
." He also recorded three of Tubb's hits, which were released posthumously: "First Year Blues," "It Just Don't Matter Now" and "I'm Free at Last."
This song shares its name with the 1964 biopic of Hank Williams, starring George Hamilton. Hank Williams Jr. recorded the soundtrack album.