You moved from Honky Tonker
To elder statesman
In a career that lasted over fifty years
With over fifty albums to your credit
And number One hits that spanned five decades
Undisputed heavy weight champion
Of traditional country music
Linked to your idol
Hank Williams
Nick–named « No Show » Jones
For you reputation of not showing-up
At concerts with long battles
With alcohol and drugs

In 1955 you recorded
« Why baby why? »
And I was hooked
As i was with Hank Williams
And would be with Outlaw singers
Willie Nelson, Meryl Haggard,
Waylon Jennings and David Allen Coe

Like Williams you were a purist
Who would never be called a phony
Turning down the opportunity
To cut a record with James Taylor
And refusing to meet Neil Young back stage
Saying you did not know them

You sang songs that told the life
Of everyday working men and women
Saying in an interview
« My fans are real true country music people
I just sing the way it is
And put feeling in it if I can
And try to live the song. »

And that’s why I loved you because
I try to do the same with my poetry
Inspired as a teenager
By you and Hank Williams

You were a Ladies man
Handsome as a movie star
Drank hard like your hero
Hank Williams
But outlived him by 52 years

Tore men apart with your fists
In honky tonk bars
And women with your looks
The last true purist
An outlaw with an angel’s voice
Hank Williams waits
At the pearly gates
one block down
From Hill Billy Lane
Where female angels
In cowgirl skirts wait with
Flasks in their hands

You a legend to your fans
long before your signature song
« He stopped loving her today »
a song about a man who carries
his love for a woman to his grave
and today you carried your love
for pure country
To that same burial ground

a.d. winans. 4/26/13

Two recent poems of A.D. Winans, « At 77 » and « Poem For Ruth Weiss, » will appear in this  months issue of « Exit 13. »

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