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Midnight in Montgomery by Alan Jackson
Album: Don't Rock The JukeboxReleased: 1991
Written by Alan Jackson and Don Sampson, this is an ode to country music legend Hank Williams, who fell ill on his way to a New Year's Eve performance and died the following day in 1953. In the song, Jackson is on his way to his own New Year's Eve show and makes a late-night visit to Williams' grave in Montgomery, Alabama, to pay his respects... only to bump into the singer's ghost.
The lyrics contain lines that are used in the Hank Williams song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
," including "Of somewhere a midnight train slowly passes by, I can hear that whistle blowing; I'm so lonesome I could cry." (thanks, Julian - Oakland, AR)
Hank Williams became a co-conspirator in Jackson's rebellion against the ACM Awards in 1994. It all started with Jackson showing up to the typically black tie event in a sleeveless Hank Williams T-shirt, claiming he thought it was perfect because who is more country than Hank Williams? Then, when he was told he had to perform his hit "Gone Country
" to a pre-recorded track, he tipped his hat to the charade by telling his drummer to play without sticks. Jackson got away with his antics, along with an award for Top Male Vocalist.
Jackson met up with Williams' ghost again, so to speak, when he was invited to join The Lost Notebooks project, spearheaded by Bob Dylan, to add music to the late singer's unrecorded lyrics. Jackson's take on "You've Been Lonesome, Too" introduces the 2011 album. He told the Wall Street Journal: "Hank Williams has always been just such a big part of what real country music is - and a poet. He showed how simply you can write; people still need to learn that from him. And he's a reason I moved to Nashville."
Jackson wasn't the first country artist to cross paths with the singing specter. David Allan Coe's 1983 hit "The Ride
" tells the haunting tale of a hitchhiker who spots the apparition on a lonely country road. Mark Chestnutt may or may not have been "Talking to Hank" in his 1992 duet with George Jones, where he stumbles upon an old shack in the woods that houses a country singer who is suspiciously like Hank.
This song peaked at #3 on the Country charts.
The black-and-white music video, directed by Jim Shea, won the CMA Music Video of the Year in 1992. Fitting in with the lyrics, Jackson emerges from his tour bus at a cemetery and performs the song at the gravesite.