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Friday, February 15, 2008

Anita Carter & Hank Williams - I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)

Not the greatest video quality, but one of those performances that makes you sit up and say, "Jesus!" It's what country music was all about, and occasionally - very occasionally - still is today.

I have a good friend from Alabama who spent most of her teen years trying to ignore country and the redneck white boys who proclaimed that it was the be-all and end-all of all music. Of course, back in the `70s contemporary country music was already well on its way to sucking, and the state of the art hasn't improved greatly. My friend Jill has always been vastly amused that a Northern boy was as deeply in love with country music as I am, but has come around a bit after hearing some of the older stuff, the "real country music" as Our Host would say. As I've often told her, growing up in Maine in the `60s was in many ways the equivalent of growing up in the South. At least as far as music went. I think the first time I saw a black person was when I was 7 years old, on a family trip to New York. In any case, as weird as it seems, Maine was a hot-bed of country music, both on the radio and on the tube. I used to regularly watch one-eyed Dick Curless, whose Tombstone Every Mile was featured on the Classic Rock episode of TTRH, on a local country-western music show.

The clip is from the Kate Smith Evening Hour, April 23, 19 and 52, and would be Williams' final television performance before his death in January, 1953. This was Williams second turn on the show. He first appeared with much of the cast of the Grand Ol' Opry in March `52, and that performance proved such a hit, that the producers of the show asked Hank and the rest of the Opry cast back for a return engagement. June Carter (who is not in blackface, let the video play for a few seconds) introduces her baby sister.

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