Hank Williams, Audrey Sheppard Williams and the Drifting Cowboys band, in 1951. Public Domain.
“Measure for Measure” suggests our mission here: to savor songs slowly, one measure at a time, diving beneath the surface in search of the wellsprings of genius. This time around, we’ll look at a legendary song by a legendary songwriter, Hank Williams, Sr.
Since most readers of this column want to write songs, not just read about them, we’ll mix our observations with a few creative challenges. We’re going to use some vocabulary from past columns, so e-mail [email protected] and type “Request Measure for Measure eBooks” in the subject line if anything throws you.
Challenge #1: Suppose that once you were in love, but now you’re alone. All is lost. Who left you. Why. Where are you now. Don’t tell — show, in images, sounds, colors. Dream a little.
Now how would you put all of that into a song.
First, choose a musical framework: What key. What meter. What chords. What about the first five notes. What form will your song take. Borrow a little from songs with a similar mood.
Hank Williams faced a similar problem in 1949, but he already had his lyrics — a poem. His friends begged him to make it into a song, and the result was “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It was released on the B side of the up-tempo “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” but... Sign In to Keep Reading