Lonesome Onry and Mean: Hank Snow, "Movin' On" to Altman's Nashville... and George Wallace
"You switched your engine now I ain't got time For a triflin' woman on my main line 'Cause I'm movin' on, you done your daddy wrong I've warned you twice, now you can settle the price 'Cause I'm movin on
Thanks to earnest guidance from his parents and maternal grandmother, even as a child Lonesome Onry and Mean understood the difference between true country music and some of the stuff Nashville dumbed down to pawn off as country music. From the first time we ever heard The Singing Ranger, Hank Snow, we knew he was a man among men. LOM was raised on a diet of Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and Ernest Tubb, but early on we understood that this little man from Nova Scotia could write 'em and sing 'em with the best. LOM was always partial to Snow's up-tempo tunes, but the little guy with the gaudiest suits in Nashville could also melt us with ballads "I Don't Hurt Anymore" or "A Fool Such As I," which he sang with a sincerity that was undeniable.
But it's Snow hits like the cheeky "I'm Movin' On" and the tongue-twisting "I've Been Everywhere" that we keep coming back to over the decades. The only song we can think of that compares to the tongue-twisting "I've Been Everywhere" was Leroy Van Dyke's speed-of-light vocal on "Auctioneer." There's no doubt Van Dyke studied at the feet of Snow.
Until Merle Haggard came along, Snow did more than any other mainstream entertainer to keep the memory and music of Jimmie Rodgers, "The Father of Country Music" alive by regularly covering Rodgers' songs on his albums and in his live shows. Snow also absorbed Rodgers' innate lyrical playfulness as demonstrated on tunes like"My Music Making Mama from Memphis,"
and Rodgers' ability to synthesize and incorporate styles of music that werenot necessarily viewed as country
A member the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame, Snow was mimicked in Robert Altman's 1975 filmNashville
. In fact, the Henry Gibson character was a composite of Snow, Roy Acuff and Porter Wagoner. LOM will have to admit that Snow's campaigning for segregationist George Wallace's presidential bid dimmed our opinion of Snow the person (who died in 1999) somewhat, but his music shines on no matter his political leanings.
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