Warning -- the following post will not include:
- Anything about basketball, the Timberwolves, or the Cavaliers (and note the Oxford comma).
- Music that appeals to anyone under the age of 75
- Anything else intellectually or emotionally stimulating.
Hello? Anyone still here? Oh, I do see a few familiar faces out there, thank goodness. Let's carry on...
If you travel south from Cleveland, eventually you leave Ohio and cross into a state which is approaching its 150th anniversary in June. The only state formed by seceding from a state that had seceded, West Virginia is located entirely within Appalachia. In other words, fertile musical turf.
In the words of a temporary Edina resident, WV is almost heaven. On the other hand, it's also the place where the greatest country musician died. On December 31, 1952, Hank Williams hired a college student, Charles Carr, to drive him from Nashville to Charleston, where he was scheduled to perform.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, Carr requested a doctor for Williams, as he was feeling the combination of the chloral hydrate and alcohol he'd been drinking. Dr. P.H. Cardwell injected Williams with two shots of vitamin B12 that also contained a quarter-grain of morphine.
Just after midnight on New Years Day, they arrived in Bristol, VA. Carr stopped at an all-night restaurant and asked Williams if he wanted to eat. Williams said he did not.
Later on, Carr stopped at a gas station in Oak Hill, WV, where he realized that Williams was dead. In Williams' Cadillac the police found empty beer cans and unfinished, handwritten lyrics.
Hank's heart had given out. He was 29.
That evening at the concert, when Williams's death was announced, the audience started laughing, thinking that it was just another excuse. After Hawkshaw Hawkins and other performers started singing "I Saw the Light" as a tribute to Williams, the crowd, now realizing that he was indeed dead, sang along.
Bill Withers was born the in the small coal-mining town of Slab Fork, WV. If you haven't seen "Soul Power," a 2009 concert film that took 35 years to release, do so. It's about the musical event in Zaire that accompanied the famous Ali-Foreman Rumble in the Jungle. Amazing lineup and performances like this:
Before writing songs with Adele, before Semisonic, Minneapolis's Dan Wilson was in a band called Trip Shakespeare. They appeared on WV Public Radio's great concert series, Mountain Stage, now in its 30th year.