A HANK WILLIAMS STORY – ON THE BAYOU – part 4
Our Story continues with Hank calling Jim to come over to provide a drumbeat, and a young girl, Lonnie shows up with her flute asking if she can play. John returns in mid song. - -
A Hank Williams Story - part 4
- - “I Saw The Light” - 1948
No one spoke, but they all nodded in approval. It was suddenly quiet. Even the crickets had stopped their chirping. It was getting darker, now, but through the holes in the clouds, the last rays of the sun could be seen reflecting off of the upper layer of clouds. A dark, pink glow enveloped the area, and the not-too-distant thunder could be felt through the ground. The air itself seemed charged. - -
TK broke the silence. “Anna, - you know your Daddy wants you home early, and we have to take Connie home. We’re already late.”
“I know it, TK. We won’t be too late,” she said, looking over at Hank.
And then, Hank was calling out to Me! “Hello, over there, – Hello? Could you help us out?” We could use a drum beat. - I see you over there, keeping time on that table. Come on over, will ya?”
Well, I was totally surprised, but I found myself walking over to them. We introduced ourselves, and everyone was taken by my being from Scotland, and being a jet pilot. I told Hank I knew of him, but didn’t recognize him at first. Hank just smiled.
A young girl, about ten, walked up to the group. She looked back over her shoulder to a couple standing off to the side, and then looked back at Hank. She had a flute.
“Can I play a song with Y’all, Mr. Williams?” she said. “I can play. My name is ‘Lonnie’.” She had a beautiful sounding voice.
Hank just stood there for a second. He looked over to the couple. He looked at the others quickly, and back to the young girl.
“You sure can, young lady,” he said. “I know just the song.”
Then Hank said to me, “This song has an Indian beat to it, like - BOOM boom boom boom, BOOM boom boom boom. Just slap your thighs, or stomach, I guess. OK Y’all, the song is in ‘E minor’ but goes to ‘E major’ for the chorus. I just recorded this one. It’s about a dime store wooden Indian, and his girlfriend. It’s called ‘Kaw-Liga’. Ready? - Lonnie, I’ll give you a nod when to solo. Tommy, that banjo will sound good, take a ride, alright? OK, - Here goes! - -
- - “Kaw-Liga” - 1952
Hank looked at Lonnie, and then to John, who’d joined in. None of us had seen his approach until we heard his horn.
“Fred Rose shoulda heard that,” said Hank, almost to himself.
We hooted and whistled with the fun we were having.
“You better hurry, John, it’s just about dark,” Hank yelled out.
John waved, tooted his horn, and poled on down the bayou.
A few large drops of rain began to fall.
Hank turned, and looked back, and Lonnie was running to her parents. He called out - “Lonnie, that was wonderful! - you keep playing, now, you hear?” Lonnie returned a smile, with a quick wave, and was gone.
We talked excitedly amongst ourselves about how much fun we were having; but concern for the instruments getting wet, brought things to an end.
A quick round of ‘Goodbyes!”, “Thanks!”, and “It’s been a pleasure!”, and we scattered, - with George being in the biggest hurry to get his bass in the car. I headed back to my table, and Anna Louise stayed a moment with Hank.
I put on my overcoat, and sat down, still enjoying myself, and the evening.
I heard Hank call out to the others. They were near TK’s car. Anna Louise had just about caught up with them.
“I’ll be back around in February. I’ll be looking for players for my band. If Y’all are available, the job’s yours.”
I could see they were very happy with the proposition. Tommy called back - “We’d like that just fine! Look us up, Hank!”
“Remember ‘The Blue Pelican’, Hank!” Anna Louise said. “See you then!”
She waved, got in the car – and they left.
Hank watched them leave. They crossed the bridge, and their tail lights disappeared in the trees.
I wondered what Hank and Anna Louise had said to each other when they were alone.
The lone light in the parking lot came on. You could see raindrops in its glow. Some of the light not caught by the trees fell on Hank who was standing alone on the dock. He looked out over the bayou into the deepening shadows, and began to play. - -
- - “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” - 1951
Hank took his guitar by the neck and swung it up over his shoulder. He stood there, looking up at the sky, and down into the bayou.
George honked the car horn. Hank gave it another moment, then turned to go.
As He stepped from the dock, he saw me off to the side. He looked a little surprised that anyone was still around. He shrugged his shoulders, like - “Oh, well”, and smiled.
“Take care up there, Jim!” he said, pointing to the sky, with his free hand.
“Thanks, I will! You take care, too, Hank!” I replied.
He waved and headed for the car. I watched him as he moved through the trees. I started to call out to him, “Where are you playing next?” thinking I might go and see him, but just then, a bolt of lightning struck. It was a close one. It lit up the park and was closely followed by its thunder.
“Yowza! That was a good one!” Hank yelled out.
The back door of his car opened, and he handed his guitar inside, then he carefully lowered himself into the back seat. His white hat disappeared, the door closed, and the car pulled away. Over the bridge, through the trees, and darkness.
The wind picked up, and the rain increased. I sat there a little while longer, still in wonder and reverie, then, got in my car for the return trip to the base. - -
Two months later, early New Year’s Day, in 1953, Hank passed away. From what I now know of Hank Williams, I’m truly glad he had a good time on that Sunday evening. He sure looked like he was happy, and I’m just glad I was a part of it. - -
- - “Jambalaya” - 1952 - outro
Photo from Hank Williams Pictures
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