Hank Williams - I Saw the Light

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"I Saw the Light"
written by Hank Williams
performed by The Rosinators
Paul Castle, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, vocals;

Fliss Premru, fiddle, vocals; Will Sneyd, fiddle, vocals

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Old Joe Clark
Orange Blossom Special
One Kind Favour
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Little Sadie
Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)

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"I Saw the Light ...One of the real highlights of the album"

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I Saw the Light by Hank Williams

"I Saw the Light" by Hank Williams

1. I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin
   I wouldn't let my Dear Saviour in
   Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
   Praise the Lord I saw the light

Chorus -
   I saw the light, I saw the light
   No more darkness, no more night
   Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
   Praise the Lord, I saw the light

2. Just like a blind man I wandered along
   Worries and fears I claimed for my own
   Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
   Praise the Lord - I saw the light

Chorus -
   I saw the light, I saw the light
   No more darkness, no more night
   Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
   Praise the Lord, I saw the light

3. I was a fool to wander and stray
   Straight is the gate and narrow the way
   Now I have traded the wrong for the right
   Praise the Lord, I saw the light

Chorus -
   I saw the light, I saw the light
   No more darkness, no more night
   Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
   Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

(Recorded in 1947; first release on single MGM 10271 in September 1948)

COUNTRY MUSIC SONG LYRICS - links to Bluegrass,
Cajun, Country Blues and Gospel Country song lyrics

Song History

Roy Acuff, The Carter Family and Hank Williams singing
'I Saw The Light' on The Kate Smith Evening Hour TV Show
March 26, 1952

The Smithsonian Magazine (January 2003) - Honky-Tonk Poet
Extract from a tribute to Hank Williams by Geoff Boucher

"Hank Williams' music was the sound of Saturday night staggering
into Sunday morning, a lonesome shuffle between the roadhouse
bar stool and the church pew. He learned how to perform for a
crowd and drink by himself in the "blood buckets" - rough Alabama
honky-tonks - but the Bible he loved as a boy is where he got his
rhythms. On the radio shows that would make him famous, in fact,
Williams always performed at least one hymn, and the spirituals he
wrote, such as the mesmerizing "I Saw the Light," are often

Hank Williams

Extract from the sing365.com Hank Williams biography

"When Hank was in tenth grade, he dropped out of school to
write and play music full time. He put together a band called
"The Drifting Cowboys" and played country music with a touch
of the blues mixed in. Lily was the manager of the band and
would drive them to concerts in south Alabama. Hank signed
on with Montgomery's local radio station, WSFA, in hopes to
gain popularity, when he was only nineteen. One night on the
way home from a concert, Hank was looking for a landmark
that would let him know they were close to home and he saw
the radio tower that was in Montgomery and began writing the
hit song "I Saw the Light". This song seems to simply be based
on Hank finding a landmark that would tell him he is close to

Alabama Public Radio
Extract from Hank Williams 50th Anniversary (aired 1/1/03)

Dr. Guy Bailey grew up in Montgomery’s working-class
Chisholm neighborhood, at a time when Hank Williams was
becoming the best known of a score of Montgomery’s country
musicians. Hank and his band had a reputation for living the
rowdy life they sang about.

Hank Williams, like many of his listeners, had come to town
from a poor rural setting. He was born Hiram Williams on
Sept 17, 1923 in the lumbering community of Mt Olive West,
Alabama. Times were hard and became worse with the onset
of the Depression and his father’s admission to a VA Hospital.
His mother, Lillie, moved Hank and his sister Irene into
Georgiana. There, Hank came under the influence of Rufus
Payne, a black guitarist known as Tee-Tot, who played on the
streets. In 1951, Hank told the Montgomery Advertiser that
Rufus Payne had given him “all the music training I ever had…”
Sacred music was also an important influence—though as Guy
Bailey notes, Hank’s song “I Saw the Light” may have been
written about the lights at Montgomery’s airport.

Extract from the CMT.com column - Nashville Skyline
"I Saw the Light" -- A Country Music Beacon?
The Saga of One Classic Country Song
by Chet Flippo

"Country gospel is genuine currency of the realm, a timeless
message that transfers seamlessly from generation to generation.

Williams himself, who was the original country star who set the
pattern for sinning on Saturday night and seeking redemption on
Sunday morning, seemingly looked into the face of eternity with
the lyrics of "I Saw the Light."

He wrote it in 1948: I wandered so aimless, my life filled with sin/
I wouldn't let my dear savior in/Then Jesus came like a stranger in
the night/Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

The melody, ironically, is identical to that of the Chuck Wagon
Gang's 1935 country gospel song "He Set Me Free." Melodies
back then -- like now -- were fluid vehicles to be liberally
borrowed from. Williams -- who granted virtually no interviews
in his life -- never talked about the circumstances of writing that
song. But his mother, Lillian, after his death, said the idea
stemmed from an evening early in his career. She explained,
"We was drivin' back from doin' a show in Georgiana [Alabama],
and I was drivin' and Hank had his head in my lap, and he said,
'Oh, Mamma, I'm tired, so tired, but I know we're almost home
because I saw the light.'" The light he mentioned was from the
beacon at the airport.

Toward the end of his life, Williams was so drunk or drugged
one night in San Diego that he stumbled off stage after finishing
only two songs in the first show of a two-show evening gig.
Minnie Pearl and the show promoter's wife drove him around
town to try to sober him up enough to do the second show. They
tried to get him to sing along with them to revive him. He sang
only one verse of "I Saw the Light" before stopping. "Minnie,"
Williams said, "I don't see no light. There ain't no light."

After Williams died on his way to a Dec. 31, 1952, concert in
Charleston, W.Va., and a New Years' Day show on Jan. 1, 1953,
in Canton, Ohio, his Drifting Cowboys band went ahead and did
the show at the Canton Memorial Auditorium. To open the show,
a spotlight was shone on the curtain after the crowd was told that
Hank Williams had died. His band, assembled unseen behind the
curtain, sang "I Saw the Light."

Hank's funeral was held on Jan. 4 at Montgomery's Municipal
Auditorium, where the crowd was so great that loudspeakers had
to be set up outside for the overflow crowd out on the street.
More than 20,000 people attended. In the service, Roy Acuff
sang "I Saw the Light" over Hank's body lying in its casket. He
was joined by Bill Monroe, Little Jimmie Dickens, Carl Smith,
Red Foley, Eddie Hill, Lew Childre and Webb Pierce. Dickens
began weeping and was inconsolable. "I Saw the Light" was
Hank Williams' ultimate show-closer.

You can go and gaze today upon Williams' huge tombstone in
the Oakwood Cemetery Annex in Montgomery, Ala. Carved
across the front of that big white marble monolith are a giant
sunbeam bursting through clouds and the words "Praise the Lord,
I Saw the Light."

© Chet Flippo, Editorial Director, CMT/CMT.com


Official Hank Williams Web Site

The Official Hank Williams Museum
118 Commerce Street Montgomery, AL 36104

Hank Williams Song Lyrics
Cowpie Song Lyrics

New film - I Saw The Light
starring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen

Hank Williams CDs

Turn Back the Years: The Essential Hank Williams Collection
(Lost Highway Records) - three-CD box set released October 11, 2005

Turn Back the Years: The Essential Hank Williams Collection

Buy now from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Categorized into three CDs - Drinkin,' lovin' and prayin'. Featuring 60
original recordings, newly digitally remastered-there are 20 songs on
each CD titled "Honky-Tonkin'," "Cold, Cold Heart" and "I Saw The

TURN BACK THE YEARS illuminates the forces that shaped and
ruled the short and troubled life of a man whose songs are part of
Americana and continue to be reinterpreted by artists of nearly every

Co-produced and annotated by Grammy winning country music authority
Colin Escott, TURN BACK THE YEARS is marked by a 24-page deluxe
booklet including an essay and rare photos. Spanning Williams' entire
recording career of 1946-1952, the set shines a focused light on one of the most important figures in the history of American music. By the time
Williams was declared dead on New Year's Day 1953, he had redefined
country music and laid the foundation for rock 'n' roll. He was 29 years
old and had recorded just 88 songs under his own name. But half of them
were hits and he was as big a star as anyone who had ever stepped on a

The "Honky Tonkin'" CD illustrates Hank's rooting in black music and
his affinity for what would be called "rock 'n' roll attitude." In fact,
Move It On Over, his first hit, had a blues melody that later became
Rock Around The Clock. He epitomized blunt honesty (I'm A Long
Gone Daddy), carnal desire (Hey, Good Lookin,' Howlin' At The Moon,
Rootie Tootie, Settin' The Woods On Fire) and rowdiness (There's A
Tear In My Beer, Too Many Parties And Too Many Pals). The latter
was issued under his Luke The Drifter guise, as was I've Been Down
That Road Before and Ramblin' Man. Heard too are Honky Tonkin',
Wearin' Out Your Walkin' Shoes, Rockin' Chair Money, Lost Highway,
(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle, Honky Tonk Blues and more.

The "Cold, Cold Heart" CD contains the classic Lovesick Blues which
was a huge hit in 1949. Today, two other songs are perhaps more
popular--Your Cheatin' Heart and I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. Other
gems include the CD's title track Cold, Cold Heart, Please Make Up
Your Mind, A Mansion On The Hill, My Love For You (Has Turned
To Hate), You Win Again and Ernest Tubb's I'm Free At Last, First
Year Blues and Wedding Bells.

The "I Saw The Light" CD boasts a few of his earliest recordings --
Calling You, Wealth Won't Save Your Soul and I Saw The Light, among
the most popular of latter-day hymns. Hank's gospel streak yielded The
Pale Horse And His Rider, I'll Have A New Body (I'll Have A New
Life), Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies, When God Dips His Love
In My Heart, Neath A Cold Gray Tomb of Stone, Alone and Forsaken,
House Of Gold, Angel Of Death and other songs.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams DVDs

Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues (2004)
directed by Morgan Neville (45 mins)

Honky Tonk Blues is an expanded director's cut of an American Masters
television special about Hank Williams, and every minute of it
illuminates Williams's importance as a seminal artist and American
archetype. Produced with an understated fascination for the country
legend's gifts and demons that shortened his career, played havoc with
his marriages, and led to a haunting death at 29, Honky Tonk Blues
builds a seamless profile from rare footage and rich interviews with
(among others) Rick Bragg, Big Bill Lister (Williams's longtime opening
act), Hank Williams Jr., and members of Williams's backup band, the
Drifting Cowboys. Williams's story, including his mentorship in the
blues by Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, childhood loneliness, and emergence as
a whole-cloth singer-songwriter "who taught people it's okay to bear your
soul in everyday language," is thoroughly compelling and resonates with
many American originals (e.g., Kurt Cobain) who followed him. An
outstanding documentary. --Tom Keogh

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

In The Hank Williams Tradition (1995)
(60 mins)

For country music fans, In the Hank Williams Tradition is as good as it
gets. This affectionate tribute combines a concise biography of Hank
Williams Sr. with reminiscences by such Nashville greats as Roy Acuff,
Chet Atkins, and Minnie Pearl, and performances of Williams's classics
by some of country's finest contemporary artists. Randy Travis's moving
rendition of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and Emmylou Harris's
mellow take on "Half as Much" are just two examples of talk and music
from a stellar lineup including Ricky Skaggs, Dwight Yoakam, Waylon
Jennings, and others, all matching their own longevity with the
timelessness of Hank Sr.'s musical legacy. Hank Williams Jr. recalls his
father from "snapshots of memory," while Hank Sr. lives on through
well-chosen performance clips that fully demonstrate his enduring
appeal. A superstar jam on "I Saw the Light" puts a spiritual spin on
Hank Sr.'s tragically short life, giving this 60-minute program a fitting
tone of reverence and respect. --Jeff Shannon

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams Books

Hank Williams : The Biography
by Colin Escott (paperback)

In his brief life, Hank Williams created one of the defining bodies of
American music. He has sold millions of records and became the model
for virtually all country music that followed. But by the time of his death
at the age of 29, he had drugged and philandered his way through two
messy marriages and was sacked from his headline spot on the Grand
Ole Opry. In this newly updated edition, Escott adds the fruit of several
years of impeccable research to this already full-blooded portrait of
Williams and reveals much that was previously unknown or hidden.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams Complete
by Hank Williams (Paperback)

This comprehensive compilation contains every song written by country
music legend Hank Williams. Includes 128 in all: Cold, Cold Heart *
Hey, Good Lookin' * Honky Tonkin' * I Ain't Got Nothing but Time *
I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You) * I Saw the Light *
I'm a Long Gone Daddy * I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry * Jambalaya
(On the Bayou) * Jesus Is Calling * A Mansion on the Hill * My Son
Calls Another Man Daddy * There's a Tear in My Beer * Your Cheatin'
Heart * many more! Also includes a biography.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams: Snapshots from the Lost Highway
by Colin Escott, Kira Florita & Rick Bragg (paperback)

A stunning gift book and indispensable collector's item, now available
in paperback . He was just twenty-nine years old and had been a
recording artist for less than six years when he died on New Year's Day
1953. Yet the songs Hank Williams left behind-including "I Saw the
Light," "Cold Cold Heart," "Your Cheatin' Heart"-transformed him into
a legend whose influence is felt as strongly today as ever. But for all
that Hank Williams's music seems to reveal, his fans have been given
remarkably little of the man himself. Now Colin Escott and Kira Florita
present a previously undiscovered wealth of private family snapshots,
letters, unpublished interviews, and other ephemera-including his final
lyric, found in the backseat of the car where he died. Most extraordinary,
though, are the previously unseen handwritten lyrics-almost thirty songs
altogether. In paperback for the first time, this is a windfall of
memorabilia for his fans everywhere. "An amazing slice of music
Americana...This haunting volume has the jarring effect of a train wreck:
You simply can't look away. Country artist Marty Stuart provides a
fascinating introduction. " - Nashville Scene

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams
by Paul Hemphill

Hank Williams is not just one of America's greatest songwriters but also
one of the most enigmatic­ – a raw poet from the rolling pine woods of
south Alabama whose anguished lyrics were celebrated from the
clamorous roadhouses of the Deep South all the way to Carnegie Hall.
His tragic early death at the age of only twenty-nine, drunk and drugged,
alone in the back seat of a Cadillac convertible on his way to a gig,
ended a career that lasted only six years but went on to influence many
of the greatest musicians in recent history. Paul Hemphill has written a
fascinating interpretative biography of Hank Williams, with the kind of
soul and understanding that other books about him have lacked. Whence
the pain and despair? Why the booze and pills? Where did his genius
come from? How did he know everything he wrote about? These are the
questions it seeks to answer.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Sing a Sad Song: The Life of Hank Williams (Music in
American Life) by Roger M. Williams (Paperback)

This is the first book ever written that actually told the true life story
of country music singer Hank Williams. Roger Williams interviewed
country music performers who either worked for Hank or shared the
stage with him. There are inside looks at Hank's problems and his
relationships with his family and fellow performers. Hank's career was
short. He died two months after his 29th birthday. However, in his short
life he became a legend and fifty years after his death his music is still
going strong.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

The Hank Williams Songbook
by Hank Williams, Fred Sokolow (Paperback)

This fantastic collection of 26 classics by the great Hank Williams
features easy-to-intermediate fingerpicking and flatpicking arrangements
in notes and tab. Includes: Cold, Cold Heart * Hey, Good Lookin' *
Honky Tonkin' * I Saw the Light * I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry *
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) * Long Gone Lonesome Blues * Mansion on
the Hill * There's a Tear in My Beer * You Win Again * Your Cheatin'
Heart * and more. Also includes an introduction by Fred Sokolow and
notes about each song.

Buy from Amazon.comor Amazon.co.uk

Your Cheating Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams
by Chet Flippo (Paperback)

When Hank Williams died in 1953 at the age of twenty-nine, from a
lethal combination of alcohol and the pain killers he had used for years
to ease the chronic pain of a congenital defect in the spine, he was
already a legend. The first musician to lift country music out of the
backwoods and into the popular music charts, he became the most
influential country music singer and song-writer of the century. Bob
Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have hailed him as a major influence, and
his songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Elvis Costello
and The Carpenters. Chet Flippo's compelling biography is a fascinating
tribute to a musician and his world, a history of country music
encapsulated in one man's career.

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams, So Lonesome
by George William Koon, Bill Koon (Paperback)

An inspired and natural genius, Hank Williams was the complete
country balladeer. Though he knew little about the technicalities of
music, his plaintive songs - Cold, Cold Heart, Your Cheatin' Heart,
and I'm So Lonesome - affirm that he knew everything about its soul.
Although the fascinating but sadly short trail of Hank Williams' career
has long been a favourite for biographers, this one winnows away the
myths and accurately recounts this Alabama boy's blazing rise to

Buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Hank Williams Quotes

"If a song can't be written in 20 minutes, it ain't worth writing."
more quotes here

Note: If you have any comments about this page or can suggest additional
links or stories to add to this research, please write to Paul Castle

Tell a friend about this page

Lyrics/Song history research on other recordings by The Rosinators

Old Joe Clark
Orange Blossom Special
One Kind Favour
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Little Sadie

Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)

Country Music Song Lyrics - bluegrass, Cajun, Country Blues & Gospel

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