Hank Williams & the Billboard Charts
by Ed Guy, edited by Brian Turpen

Hank Williams established an amazing forty-one songs on the Billboard Charts. He wrote twenty-five of the songs and co-wrote another five.  Others, including his mentor Fred Rose, wrote eleven of the remaining songs.  The performance credit on all by one of Hank’s MGM Records was “Hank Williams and His Drifting Cowboys”.  One of the “Non-Session” songs, Please Don’t Let Me Love You, which charted in 1955 was credited to “Hank Williams and His Guitar”.  The Sterling Record’s issue of Never Again was listed as “Hank Williams and The Country Boys”, but was changed to Drifting Cowboys when it was re-issued by MGM.
From 1947 until January 1953, MGM, in keeping with industry practices, designated the most promising song on the “A” side, while relegating the “weaker” song to the “B” side.  Twenty-four of these charted songs were “A” sides and eleven were “B” sides. MGM 10461 (Kaw-Liga and Your Cheatin’ Heart) was the last recording of Hank’s to indicate “A” and “B” sides.   It is interesting to consider some of Hank’s “weaker” songs that became “B” Sides including some of his classic songs: Cold, Cold Heart, I Can’t Help It, and Your Cheatin’ Heart!
Ten MGM Records by Hank became two-sided hits.  These included:

  • Lovesick Blues/Never Again
  • Lost Highway/You’re Gonna Change
  • Long Gone Lonesome Blues/My Son Calls Another Man Daddy
  • They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me/Why Should We Try Anymore
  • Moanin’ The Blues/Nobody’s Lonesome For Me
  • Dear John/Cold, Cold Heart
  • Howlin’ At The Moon/I’Can’t Help It
  • Lonesome Whistle/Crazy Heart
  • Settin’ The Woods On Fire/You Win Again
  • Kaw-liga/Your Cheatin’ HeartText Box:    Hank appeared on one cover of Billboard Magazine, during his lifetime. It was on the March 25, 1950 issue.

Due to the Musicians’ Strike, Hank did not have a recording session for a year.  His 5th Session was on November 6, 1947 while his 6th Session was not until November 7, 1948.
From the beginning of 1949 to the end of 1953, Hank Williams was well represented on the Billboard Charts.  He often had three or four songs on the charts, but during the week of October 8, 1949, he surpassed himself with five songs on Billboard simultaneously!  Hank measured his success by consulting the Billboard charts.  While in Montgomery, he would go to Cohen’s Amusement Company (Phonograph/Record Store) to buy this weekly trade magazine.
Hank’s first recording session for Sterling Records on December 4, 1946 produced Never Again which, after the rights to the masters were purchased by MGM in July 1948, became Side “B” for Lovesick BluesNever Again also charted for 2 weeks rising to the 6th position.  The first song recorded by Hank for MGM on April 21, 1947 was Move It On Over which was his first charted song.  It was on the Billboard Charts for 3 weeks and reached No. 4.
A January 9, 1950 session produced four songs and they all became Billboard chart hits.  The four songs were:  Long Gone Lonesome Blues, My Son Calls Another Man Daddy, Why Don’t You Love Me, and Why Should We Try Anymore.


Hank died on January 1, 1953 and had eight posthumous releases that became Billboard hits.
The last four songs by Hank that reached the Billboard Charts (Weary Blues From Waitin’, Please Don’t Let Me Love You, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and Why Don’t You Love Me) were not regular issues by MGM Records.

  • The first two songs were “Non-Session” recordings which were overdubbed in 1953 and 1955, respectively.
  • The second two songs were only released as 45 RPM singles since 78 RPM records were discontinued during1957 in the United States.  These songs were re-issues with new background overdubbed.
  • I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry was recorded on August 30, 1949 but was determined to be “weaker” than My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It so it became the “B” side.  This classic seemed to be a “sleeper” until over 13 years after Hank died when it finally became a charted hit song. 

Text Box: BILLBOARD CHARTS – HANK WILLIAMS    FIRST  CHARTED	SONG TITLE	WEEKS   ON CHART	TOP  POS	WEEKS TOP POS  8/9/47	Move It On Over	3	4	  7/3/48	Honky Tonkin’	1	14	  7/24/48	I’m A Long Gone Daddy	3	6	  3/5/49	Lovesick Blues	42	1	16  3/5/49	Mansion On The Hill	2	12	  5/14/49	Wedding Bells	29	2	2  7/9/49	Never Again	2	6	  7/23/49	Mind Your Own Business	11	5	  10/1/49	You’re Gonna Change	9	4	  10/8/49	Lost Highway	3	12	  11/26/49	My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It	12	2	1  2/18/50	I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Livin’	5	5	  3/25/50	Long Gone Lonesome Blues	21	1	8  4/15/50	My Son Calls Another Man Daddy	1	9	  6/3/50	Why Don’t You Love Me	25	1	10  10/7/50	They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me	6	5	  10/14/50	Why Should We Try Anymore	1	9	  11/18/50	Moanin’ The Blues	15	1	1  11/18/50	Nobody’s Lonesome For Me	4	9	  3/3/51	Dear John	4	8	  3/17/51	Cold, Cold Heart	46	1	1  5/26/51	Howlin’ At The Moon	10	3	      6/9/51	I Can’t Help It 	13	2	2  7/14/51	Hey, Good Lookin’	25	1	8  10/20/51	Crazy Heart	18	4	  10/20/51	Lonesome Whistle	2	9	  12/22/51	Baby, We’re Really In Love	15	4	  3/1/52	Honky Tonk Blues	12	2	1  5/3/52	Half As Much	16	2	2  8/16/52	Jambalaya (On The Bayou)	29	1	14  10/11/52	Settin’ The Woods On Fire	12	2	1  11/15/52	You Win Again	1	10	     12/20/52*	I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive	13	1	1  2/21/53	Kaw-Liga	19	1	13  2/21/53	Your Cheatin’ Heart	23	1	6  5/16/53	Take These Chains From My Heart	13	1	4  7/25/53	I Won’t Be Home No More	9	4	  10/10/53	Weary Blues From Waitin’	2	7	  4/30/55	Please Don’t Let Me Love You	3	9	     6/11/66**	I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry	4	43	     10/9/76**	Why Don’t You Love Me	7	61	    *   Hit Top Position in 1953	       **   Re-Issued Singles				      Rev.1/08    Ref: Joel Whitburn’s Top Country Singles 1944-1988    Why Don’t You Love Me charted twice – in 1950 and 1976.  It reached No. 1 in 1950 and stayed on the charts for 25 weeks.  In 1976, it was on the charts for 7 weeks and reached No. 61.  It was issued three times as MGM 10696, 12611, and 14849.  The last issue was only on 45 RPM and, in fact, was the last regular issue of Hank’s U.S. 45 singles.
I Won’t Be Home No More was recorded on July 11, 1952.  It was not released until the middle of 1953 and first charted on July 25, 1953.  A special and rare Promotional 78 (MGM 53-S-313) was released to Disc Jockeys only but not for resale to the public.  Ira Peck, the Editor of Dell Publications, introduces Hank.  (Jimmy Swan is on the reverse side with The Last Letter, a tribute to Hank Williams.)  It seems that this song, along with I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive was a fitting farewell from Hank to all his fans.
Ed Guy is the largest dealer of Hank Williams’ recordings and memorabilia.  He has been in business since 1973 and ships mail orders throughout the world.

Ed Guy, Hank Williams Collectibles
PO Box 813, Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 488-0217
E-Mail: danaptguys@cox.net
Brian Turpen is a Hank Williams researcher and is author of the recent book, Ramblin’ Man – Short Stories from the Life of Hank Williams, which is available at the Boyhood Museum.