3 Songs You Didn’t Know Hank Williams Wrote for Other Artists

Technically, Hank Williams didn’t know how to read music. Instead, he wrote songs based on personal experiences and told his stories using chords and chord progressions from early guitar lessons he took from blues musician Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne, who he called his “only teacher.”

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Already writing songs at the age of 12, by the late 1940s, Williams was already becoming recognized as a songwriter and later debuted at the Grand Ole Opry in 1949, just three years before his death on New Year’s Day, 1953, at the age of 29.

Within his short life, Williams released 31 singles (and recorded as many as 55), 11 of which became No. 1 hits and country classics, including “Hey Good Lookin,’” “My Heart Would Know,” “Move It On Over,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Ramblin’ Man,” and “Take These Chains From My Heart,” among dozens of other songs within his songbook.

Williams released his final single “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” in 1952, which went to No. 1 following his death. Throughout his career, Williams also wrote a series of songs for his peers in country music. In 2022, American Songwriter took a look at five of those songs.

Here are three more songs Williams wrote that were released by other artists within his lifetime and posthumously.

1. “Jesus Is Calling,” Charlie Monroe and His Kentucky Pardners (1951)
Written by Hank Williams and Charlie Monroe

Charlie Monroe & the Kentucky Pardners became a successful touring band in the South throughout the 1940s. Led by bluegrass musician Charlie Monroe (1903-1975), the group was signed to RCA Records in 1950 and released a number of songs, including one he co-wrote with Williams: “Jesus Is Calling.”

Jesus is calling, calling, calling night and day
And you will hear Him if you’ll just pray
He’s calling for you, so don’t turn away
Jesus is calling, calling, calling night and day

When your soul is weary
It seems you’ve lost your way
Jesus is calling, calling night and day
When you need a friend to go with you all the way
Jesus is calling, calling, calling night and day

2. “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” Bill Lister (1952) / Hank Williams Jr. (1989)
Written by Hank Williams

Though Williams first recorded “There’s a Tear in My Beer” in 1951, he decided to shelve the track. A year later, honky tonk singer “Big Bill” Lister (1923-2009) was the first to release the song. Lister later shared the demo of “There’s a Tear in My Beer” with Williams’ son Hank Williams Jr., who released it on his 1989 compilation Hank Williams Jr.’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 as a duet with his father.

The song peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, while the video, featuring Hank Williams Sr., won a CMA and ACM for Video Of The Year, along with a posthumous Grammy for the late country legend and his son for Best Country Vocal Collaboration in 1990.

There’s a tear in my beer
‘Cause I’m cryin’ for you, dear
You are on my lonely mind
Into these last nine beers
I have shed a million tears
You are on my lonely mind

I’m gonna keep drinkin’
Until I’m petrified
And then maybe these tears
Will leave my eyes
There’s a tear in my beer
‘Cause I’m cryin’ for you dear
You are on my lonely mind

3. “The Sermon on the Mount,” Merle Haggard (2011)
Written by Hank Williams

In 2006, a notebook of Williams’ unfinished lyrics was unearthed. By 2011 a collection of artists recorded Williams’ unreleased songs on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.

Helping bring Williams’ lost songs to life for the first time were Bob Dylan (“The Love That Faded”), Alan Jackson (“You’ve Been Lonesome, Too”), Lucinda Williams (“I’m So Happy I Found You”), Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill (“I Hope You Shed a Million Tears”), and Patty Loveless (“You’re Through Fooling Me”), among others.

Merle Haggard (1937-2016) closes the album with the biblical ballad “The Sermon On the Mount.”

A man sat on a mountainside
A carpenter by trade
Teaching his disciples
While they knelt and prayed

He blessed the poor and simple
And he brought the mourners joy
He came to heal the blind and lame
They came not to destroy

When smitten by his enemies
He turned the other cheek
He brought strength of God and morals
To mortals who were weak

Photo by Getty Images

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