|B-side "Crazy Heart"|
|Released September 1951|
|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.