The 16 Best Hank Williams Quotes: “To Sing Like a Hillbilly, You Had to Have Lived Like a Hillbilly”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Hank Williams—The name is synonymous with country music, and with exquisite songwriting. The man not only sang but is responsible for some of the most indelible tunes of the 20th century, including “Cold, Cold Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

But what did this master of three chords and the truth have to say about life, liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness? What did he think about the art and craft of songwriting outside singing and strumming his guitar?

For a man who left generations of songwriters in his wake, both in his own family and abroad in the greater world of musicians, what he thought about the world was important. So, let’s dive into Hank Williams’ Top 16 Quotes.

1. “If you’re gonna sing, sing ’em something they can understand.”

2. “To sing like a hillbilly, you had to have lived like a hillbilly. You had to have smelt a lot of mule manure.”

3. “Folk songs express the dreams and prayers and hopes of the working people.”

4. “I’m nothing but a drunkard. Why do people expect me to be anything else?”

5. “There ain’t a man livin’ who hasn’t talked to his dog.”

6. “There ain’t nobody I’d rather have alongside me in a fight than my mama with a broken bottle in her hand.”

7. “If you think I’m a drunk, you shoulda seen my old man.”

8. “I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin’ like myself.”

9. “In this business, if you’re a success, there’s some folks who actually worship you. I have been to some places where it’s impossible to walk across the stage without having the major portion of my outfit torn off for souvenirs.”

10. “The way I feel is that if you don’t like folk music, stay away from my shows.”

11. “My mother played the organ in church at Georgiana, and I sat on the seat beside her.”

12. “I learned to play the git-tar from an old colored man in the streets of Montgomery. He was named Tetot, and he played in a colored street band.”

13. “I don’t know one note from another.”

14. “I wish I was back at WSFA making twelve dollars a week. At least then, if someone come to see me, I’d know they were coming to see me. Now I reckon they just want something from me.”

15. “I think I’m good enough to play and sing.”

16. “Personally, I cain’t stand classical stuff, but I don’t tell the world about it. I just turn the radio off. Now, why can’t these folks who don’t like my kind of music do the same?”

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