Take These Chains From My Heart

Album: Hank Williams' Greatest Hits (1953)

Songfacts®:

  • This was written by Fred Rose and Hy Heath. Rose signed Williams to his publishing company in 1946 and became his manager when Williams became a country star a year later. Heath wrote scores and screenplays for many movies.
  • Williams recorded this, along with "Kaw-Liga" and "Your Cheatin' Heart," at his last session at Nashville's Castle Records. He died before this was released as a single. It hit #1 on the country chart when it came out.
  • Ray Charles recorded this in 1963. His version went to #8 in the US.
  • Not long before recording this song, Williams' tumultuous marriage to his first wife, Audrey Sheppard, fell apart. Sheppard wanted a music career of her own and started by forcing her way into the studio with Williams, where they recorded a string of questionable duets. Aside from her ambition, it was Williams' drinking problem that pushed the relationship beyond the brink. In this song, he pleads, "Take these chains from my heart and set me free." He would remarry (country singer Billie Jean Jones) shortly before his death.
  • Williams' alcohol abuse also lead to another devastating breakup - with his producer and mentor Fred Rose, who announced they would not work together again after these recordings. His band, The Drifting Cowboys, also drifted away to another more stable frontman, fellow country singer Ray Price. Heartbroken both emotionally and physically (he had started to develop heart problems in 1952), Williams sunk deeper into his excesses and died just before the new year.
  • This was featured in the 2012 Wes Anderson dramedy Moonrise Kingdom, starring Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray.
  • Lee Roy Parnell had a hit with this in 1994 when he covered the song for his On the Road Again album. Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn, was a guest vocalist on the track, which peaked at #17 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 22nd 1963, Ray Charles began a three-day engagement at the Olympia Theater in Paris, France...
    While back in the U.S.A. his covered version of "Take These Chains from My Heart"* was at #8 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and that was also its peak position on the chart, it was at #8 for one week...
    It reached #7 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Hank Williams' original version peaked at #1 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Country & Western Singles chart on June 21st, 1953, he had passed away six months earlier on January 1st, 1953...
    * 1963 was a good year for Mr. Charles; he had seven songs on the Top 100, the other six were "Don't Set Me Free" {#20}, "The Brightest Smile in Town" {#92}, "No One" {#21}, "Without Love" {#29}, "Busted" {#4}, and "That Lucky Old Sun" {debut on Dec. 1st, but peaked at #20 on Jan. 12th, 1964}.
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