This became one of Hank Williams' most famous songs, but he didn't write it. It was written by a blind singer named Leon Payne, who released the original version in 1948. According to an interview with Payne's widow published in the book Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy
, he wrote the song when he was hitchhiking from Texas to California when he got stuck for a stretch and was taken in by the Salvation Army.
His version is surprisingly upbeat, featuring a string band and various quips by Payne throughout the song.
Payne's version didn't reach the charts, but when Williams recorded it in 1949, that rendition made #12 on the Country chart. The song grew in popularity as Williams legend grew, as it was so associated with his itinerant lifestyle of wine, women and song.
Payne, who died in 1969, also wrote the popular songs "I Love You Because" and "Psycho."