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SEPTEMBER 19, 2011

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The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams


Hank Williams was just 29 when he died—in the backseat of a Cadillac headed for Kanawha County, West Virginia. For years now, Bob Dylan’s been working on a project that would breathe new life, and new melodies, into the mess of unfinished lyrics that Williams left behind. Now these Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams are finally seeing the light of day.

Dylan—who contributes a song called “The Love That Faded” to the proceedings—recruited Merle Haggard, Jack White, Lucinda Williams, Levon Helm, and other kindred spirits to round out the compilation. The number of voices—and the variety of songwriting talents involved—makes it a more eclectic collection than Mermaid Avenue, the Billy Bragg–Wilco collaboration that set lost Woody Guthrie lyrics to music. But the results are fascinating, and the best songs are as good as anything you’ll hear on the radio today—unless, of course, you happen to tune in to old Hank himself.

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