Pop & Hiss

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Three of the many reasons why Hank Williams won a Pulitzer Prize

April 12, 2010 |  2:32 pm

Though the Pulitzer Prizes in music are, for the most part, ridiculously out of touch with the art and craft of most music besides classical and jazz (we’d never begrudge Ornette Coleman his prize), the committee often makes up for what it fails to recognize in the present by awarding special citations for music made in the past.  Which is to say, though they never would have given a Pulitzer to Bob Dylan when he was making his Great American Music, they caught up by giving him a special citation.

So, it gives Pop & Hiss great pleasure to read this from the Pulitzer committee:

A posthumous special citation to Hank Williams for his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.

Here, in a nutshell, is why, in one perfect verse from the saddest, most perfect country song ever written:

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry

Or maybe this one, from "Alone and Forsaken":

The darkness is falling, the sky has turned gray
A hound in the distance is starting to bay
I wonder, I wonder -- what she's thinking of
Forsaken, forgotten -- without any love.

Or this, from "A Mansion on the Hill":

The light shines bright from your window the trees stand so silent and still
I know you're alone with your pride dear in your loveless mansion on the hill

-- Randall Roberts