Suvarna Garge (Editor)

(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle

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B-side  "Crazy Heart"
Length  2:25
Released  September 1951
Label  MGM
Recorded  July 25, 1951, Castle Studio, Nashville
Genre  Country, honky-tonk, blues

"(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle" is a song written by Hank Williams and Jimmie Davis. It became his fourteenth consecutive Top 10 single in 1951.



Jimmie Davis was a Jimmie Rodgers disciple who scored a big hit on Decca Records with "You Are My Sunshine" in 1939 and "There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder" in 1945. It is unclear when he and Hank Williams wrote "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle"; on one of his Mother's Best radio shows, recorded between January and March 1951, Williams tells his audience that he's going fishing with Jimmie Davis the next week, so the song may have been composed then. Containing two of country music's major themes, trains and prison, the song is notable for the way Hank mimics the sound of a train whistle on the word "lonesome." The song was likely an inspiration for Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." It was recorded at Castle Studio in Nashville on July 25, 1951 with Fred Rose producing and backing from Don Helms (steel guitar), Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Sammy Pruett (lead guitar), Howard Watts (bass) and probably Jack Shook (rhythm guitar).

Acuff-Rose songwriter Helen Hudgins later recalled the stiflingly hot summer session, "Hank had his shirt unbuttoned all the way, and he was absolutely soaking wet. It seemed that all he was...was voice. It came up from I don't know where." In a June 2014 online Rolling Stone article, Joseph Hudak wrote of the song, "The sound is so stark, so unsettling, that it's easy to feel exactly what Williams was getting at in the performance: simple heartbreak." The song's title was truncated to "Lonesome Whistle" so that it could be listed on jukebox cards. It peaking at number 8 on the Billboard country singles chart. The B-side, Fred Rose's "Crazy Heart", outperformed it, peaking at number four.

Cover versions

  • Johnny Cash recorded the song at Sun Records in 1957.
  • Del Shannon covered the song in 1961.
  • George Jones included the song on his 1962 tribute LP My Favorites of Hank Williams.
  • Bobby Darin recorded the song for Capitol.
  • Hank Snow recorded it for RCA in 1963.
  • Hank Williams, Jr. recorded it as an overdubbed duet with Hank Sr. in 1965 for MGM.
  • Porter Wagoner cut the song for RCA in 1967.
  • Rick Nelson covered the song for Decca in 1967.
  • Stonewall Jackson recorded it in 1969.
  • Don Williams recorded the song in 1999.
  • Lacy J. Dalton covered the song on her 2010 album Here's to Hank.
  • Two versions of the song are available on the 2012 Bob Dylan box set The 50th Anniversary Collection.
  • Beck covered the song on the 2001 compilation album Sounds Eclectic based on the radio show of the same name.
  • References

    (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle Wikipedia