DIARY - 8 FEBRUARY 2005 - HOLLY WILLIAMS INTERVIEW
WILLIAMS - MORE LIVING PROOF
I were an angel in '52/ in a blue Cadillac on the eve of New Year/ and
there I could have saved him, the man who sang the blues." - Sometimes
- Holly Williams.
Williams has only vague recollections of the three movies featuring
her dad and grandpa.
But the singer is having no trouble turning her grandpa's long lost
lyrics into song for a fourth movie.
Holly is completing a genetic lineage that started with Hank Williams
Sr and erupted in her equally talented sire Hank Williams Jr.
But when the singer first began performing live she kept her identity
a secret to avoid the pressure of her rich family past.
''When I first played in Nashville, I never told people who I was
because I wanted to know if they liked me for my music first,"
says Williams, just 23, who enjoyed that same anonymity on a recent
W.A. tour with Kasey Chambers.
"Even at my shows now not many people know who I am unless I
was touring here to promote her solo debut disc The Ones We Never Knew
(Universal South) that followed a five track EP she unleased on a
2003 European tour with Ron Sexsmith.
And, apart from ABC and community radio, there has been little exposure
here for any of the Hanks.
Holly and stepbrother Hank 111, born Shelton, are mere names in the unlucky
radio country where not even the unrelated Lucinda has fared much better
And we certainly didn't have a chance to catch any of the Williams movies.
George Hamilton played Hank Sr in Your Cheating Heart, Richard
Thomas played her dad in The Living Proof and Hank Jr performed
in and wrote the soundtrack of A Time To Sing when he was just
"I have a little secret,' Holly told Nu Country TV in a phone call
from Bunbury on her whirlwind tour with Kasey Chambers.
Williams toured the U.S. for three weeks with Chambers who returned the
favour on the W.A leg of her recent tour.
Holly plans an east coast tour of Australia later in 2005 or in 2006.
"I have never seen A Time To Sing. It's so hard to find. I
asked dad and we looked on E Bay but it's completely out of print. I remember
seeing Your Cheating Heart as a little girl.
Hank did have a light humorous side that people didn't see. They only
saw the dark side.
They're exploring a new movie to show the whole character. I have some
Hank Sr lyrics that he never finished the music to. I've been writing
music for them recently on the piano.
We talked about writing that for the movie. Bob Dylan thought of doing
some too and Willie Nelson may have done a few but it's all up in the
air. The lyrics are amazing - entire poems and song lyrics."
Williams is diplomatic on the portrayal by Richard "John Boy Walton"
Thomas of her dad in the NBC telemovie The Living Proof.
was a very interesting choice to play my dad," she joked, "I
don't think he even looks like him. They portrayed the mountain fall
and that was very true - when he fell off Ajax Mountain in 1975."
Holly's mother had only just met Bocephus when he almost died and
had to have his face and body rebuilt after the horrific fall from
the Montana mountain range.
"My mum Becky had been on one date with dad before the accident,"
"She said he was too wild and was never going out with him again.
When he fell off the mountain she felt sorry for him and nursed him
back to health again. She was at his bedside all the way through his
recovery and nursed him when he came out of hospital."
Holly's mother raised her after her parents split when she was two she
attributes her success to both parents.
The singer, who once had modelling aspirations, emulated her father by
writing songs at eight.
"I had a book called Holly's Song Folder and I wrote about things
I knew absolutely nothing about - from husbands leaving wives, people
cheating on them and people dying," Holly recalled.
"It's very strange to go back and read it now. I was the happiest
kid in the world but I wrote about a lot of things I hadn't necessarily
lived through. I think I was maybe born with a sense of the darker side
of things. I don't really understand where it came from."
The singer, born in Nashville on March 12, 1981, added guitar to her piano-playing
repertoire at 17 and fell back in love with music and wrote more than
500 songs in a spirited burst of creativity.
read pain from a young boy whose father left too early/ whose mother
tried to mould him into what she'd love to be." - Between
The Lines - Holly Williams.
Williams confessed that Between Your Lines was inspired by
her father being sent on the road to sing his dad's song by her
grandmother Audrey when he was just eight.
Audrey raised Hank Jr after Hank Sr died in the back of a Cadillac
on New Year's Eve, 1952, en routé from Austin, Texas, to
a concert in Canton, Ohio.
By then Hank had married second wife Billy Jean who later became
widow of fellow country star Johnny Horton who also died after a
gig at the Austin club The Skyline.
Hank Williams Jr
it is about him and his relationship with Audrey," Williams said.
"But the song came from a place of love and compassion - more than
anger or anything like that. I wrote that song when I was a lot younger
- he was on tour a lot and I was trying to figure out our relationship
and get to know him a lot more. I was about 18 when I wrote that. A lot
of those songs are fairly old."
Williams says her dad, on the road up to 300 days a year when she was
young, was protective.
"My dad kept us very sheltered from touring," Williams admitted.
"He was pretty wild back then. But he would always tell us 'I'm not
Bocephus - I'm daddy.
We would go hunting, fishing and watching football. His live shows were
She was not surprised he stole the show when I saw him perform at a Willie
Nelson July 4 Picnic in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1983.
"I'm sure he was mooning the crowd, taking his shirt off and firing
his gun while he was standing on the piano," Holly said.
"That's how it was back in the eighties."
SAFE NOT SAFE IN PARIS, TENNESSEE
Holly says a dim witted young junkie who recently stole the family
jewellery safe from her dad's home in Paris, Tennessee, when Bocephus
was asleep with his fourth wife was lucky her sire was not armed and
"No, none of my jewellery was there in dad's safe," Williams
said, "no, that's funny. Whoever did it must have had huge balls.
Seriously my dad would have shot him if he saw someone in the house.
Luckily he was asleep. He took me hunting when I was young. I have
never actually shot a deer yet. I never want to kill a deer but he's
also into fishing and goes fishing all the time. He has this cabin
just two hours north of Nashville. I emailed him today and told him
about the fishing here. I beat him here and told him he should come
The thief's mother turned him in after her son asked to fence the
Williams has not followed her ancestors into movies she has a passion
for pitching her songs for movies after tours with singing actors Billy
Bob Thornton and John Mellencamp.
"With Billy Bob we had interesting crowds - from beer joints to little
theatres. It was a very diverse crowd. Billy Bob did a couple of Stanley
Bros bluegrass songs one night. He also did some Hank Sr songs - I Saw
The Light. He is a big Hank fan. I met with music supervisors for movie
soundtracks and TV shows in Los Angeles. I love reading the scripts and
really love dramas - especially in independent theatres. I hope to pitch
my songs for movies."
Williams has dived into her rich genetic pool to harvest hay from the
hell of ruptured romance.
"I wrote Cheap Parades about an old relationship of mine,"
Williams said, "I was young and messed up with the whole cheating
thing. That type of world can make you feel horrible and makes you think
you're doing something wrong. That was all about that. I also knew a lot
of married couples going through divorce and friends of mine having affairs
I was 19 when I wrote that."
It was a sibling song of Velvet Sounds.
"It was my kind of thoughts on things you miss," Williams said,
"it was the same relationship I had gone through. It was weird. It
came to me as a poem - I was writing down things."
But it was
a substance abuse that spawned Would You Still Have Fallen.
"A friend of mine was going through a really bad alcohol problem,"
"He had been in and out of rehab for years - for alcohol and drugs.
When you ask yourself it you could do more for these people. So many times
you think if I had tried they wouldn't have done this. You come up to
a point and you realise people can only change themselves. You can't change
someone else - it took me a long time to realise that. I have known so
many people who have gone through that sort of addiction. Last night a
woman came up to me and told me how her husband had just died of alcoholism
- it's crazy how it happens."
Williams says her song Sometimes was not intended to be about Hank
"Two years ago I wrote Sometimes," Holly recalled.
"People say I went in and tried to write it about Hank Sr but it
was one of those where the words came out of nowhere. I was done with
the song. I wasn't going to write another verse and the words just came
out of there. I wrote the song how people use things like sex, drugs and
religion as a vice. And want to get away from it all sometime. Hank Sr
just popped in there. Dad was only three when he died. We only really
know him through people's stories and what we hear. I don't really contemplate
his death. It's so hard to feel like he's my grandfather because there's
not that many people (still alive) who knew him. It's so far away from
The one exception was Merle Kilgore who died at 70 in Mexico about an
hour before I interviewed Holly.
Kilgore was a Louisiana newsboy at 14 when he became a guitar roadie for
Hank Sr and managed Hank Jr and performed with him for over 40 years.
But it wasn't until after I interviewed Holly that I learned of the death
of the icon who wrote a brace of huge hits for artists diverse as Johnny
Cash, Johnny Horton, Webb Piece and Tommy Roe.
CLICK HERE for a Kilgore obituary.
REVIEW - DECEMBER 2004
THE ONLY ONES WE NEVER KNEW (Universal South).
Hank Williams Jr was eight he was sent on the road to sing his dad's
song by domineering mother Audrey.
Bocephus had left home and daughter Holly Williams mother by the time
she began writing songs at the same age.
Not exactly a recipe for success but neither was Hank Sr who went
to God in the back seat of a Cadillac at 29 in 1952.
The good news - Holly sings much better than stepbrother Hank 111
and has avoided genetic substance abuse.
23, exploits writing genes on her debut disc with a style vastly different
to her kinfolk.
Although she pays homage to grandpa and father in these evocative songs
she blazes her own trail.
Let's deal with those songs.
Holly does in entrée Sometimes - "I wish I were an
angel in '52/ in a blue Cadillac on the eve of New Year/ and there I could
have saved him, the man who sang the blues."
It's embroidered by Larry Campbell on steel and segues into Everybody's
Waiting For A Change as she swaps acoustic guitar for piano while
singing of a character's judgmental flaws.
skates on jagged cornices of broken hearts - not always her own - in Take
Me Down, I'll Only Break Your Heart, All As It Should Be and Memory
This is not a country disc but Williams sings with the pungent passion
of the genre in the haunting Would You Still Have Fallen and domestic
abuse in Take Me Down.
Equally dynamic are the confessional Cheap Parades and Memory
Of Me and sheer beauty of a lover's nocturnal breath in Velvet
Her imagery and mood swings dominate throughout to finale Nothing More
- saga of a woman at 70 whose husband has an affair.
Although raised by her mother Williams exudes a sympathy for her sire
in Between Your Lines - "I read pain from a young boy whose
father left too early/ whose mother tried to mould him into what she'd
love to be."
Cynics sneer at Williams but peel back the prejudice to admire true talent
- hell, it's a family tradition.
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