One More Night (1969) part 2 (final). I believe in Hank Williams

 

by Jochen Markhorst

II          I believe in Hank Williams

 While the lyrics may be somewhat distinctive in form, the musical accompaniment is not, nor is there much to enjoy in terms of content. In terms of content, the lyrics offer little or no sparkling poetry or other fireworks; it is mainly a string of country clichés. This starts with the theme, which is probably the trigger for the entire song text: one more night – the bittersweet farewell of a love affair. A theme like Kris Kristofferson elaborates on around the same time, much more movingly, in one of his most beautiful songs, in “For The Good Times”;

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine
Hear the whisper of the rain drops flowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times

A song that would only be catapulted into the stratosphere after Nashville Skyline, in the version by Ray Price, who scored a huge hit with it in 1970, after which the song was definitively elevated to the canon by Elvis and Al Green, among others. Kristofferson himself recorded the song in 1970, but maybe Dylan knows Bill Nash’s version from 1968.

Or not. “Before You Accuse Me”, Ray Charles’ “Get On The Right Track Baby”, Jimmy Dean’s “One Last Time”, Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me”… the theme is obviously generic enough to have entered Dylan’s repertoire without any immediate cause or current trigger. Bing Crosby’s top hit from 1931, “Just One More Chance” even uses literally the same words;

Just one more night
To taste the kisses that enchant me
I'd want no others if you'd grant me
Just one more chance

… as well as plenty of other songs. Oh well, we even hear this word combination in one of The Monkees’ most enjoyable songs, in the 1966 world hit “Last Train To Clarksville” – a rather transparent “Paperback Writer” rip-off, but no less enjoyable for that.

'Cause I'm leaving in the morning
And I must see you again
We'll have one more night together
Till the morning brings my train and I must go
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no

Much the same applies to Dylan’s choice of words in the verses. Dylan has found his lyrics for “One More Night” by browsing through country classics left and right. Although not necessarily in the standards. “Kaw-Liga”, for example, echoes in more songs on Nashville Skyline, and is actually a rather atypical song in Hank Williams’ repertoire. Recorded during Hank’s very last recording session, September 23, 1952, the same session that yielded the immortal “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Take These Chains From My Heart”. “Kaw-Liga” was co-written with Fred Rose, has an unusual chord progression, an unusual story (about the wooden statue of an Indian with an unfortunate crush on a “Chocktaw maid over in the Georgia store”), and is the only Williams song with a fade-out.

Yet, or perhaps because of this, the record company sees hit potential. It is the A-side of the first single released after Williams’ death (1 January 1953), storms the charts and eventually spends 14 weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Country Chart. And impresses the young Robert Zimmerman, as we can read in Clinton Heylin’s The Double Life of Bob Dylan, Volume 1: A Restless, Hungry Feeling, 1941-1966 (2021):

“I heard Hank Williams. I think [it was] ‘Kaw-Liga’, and [the DJ] said he was dead. Hank’s voice stopped me in my tracks. It was from the same world as the Stanley [Brothers] but from [a] more focused part of it – it was more explanatory [sic] and less mysterious, more jolting and spine-tingling, especially the voice.”

Hank Williams’ repertoire seems to be etched in the creative part of Dylan’s brain, to which we probably owe the jumpiness of the musical accompaniment and the simple poetry of the lyrics of “One More Night” anyway, but we also see it more explicitly. “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” varies quite literally on Hank Williams’ “You Win Again”, from “Kaw-Liga” a lyric fragment like “Is it any wonder” moves to “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and Hank’s refrain

Kaw-Liga, ooh
Standin' there, as lonesome as can be
Ah, just wishin' he were still an ol' pine tree

… echoes in Dylan’s opening couplet:

One more night, the stars are in sight
But tonight I’m as lonesome as can be
Oh, the moon is shinin’ bright
Lighting ev’rything in sight
But tonight no light will shine on me

In which, of course, we hear more Williams traces. “Wait For The Light To Shine”, “I Saw The Light”, “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”… this first verse can be cut and pasted from Hank’s oeuvre quite effortlessly, as can almost all of the lyrics.

It is, all in all, clear that Dylan is not driven by a thirst for originality. He trusts – rightly so – in the power of the familiar. “My songs, what makes them different is that there’s a foundation to them. That’s why they’re still around, that’s why my songs are still being performed. It’s not because they’re such great songs,” says Dylan in 1997, in the interview with Jon Pareles for the New York Times. The same interview in which he says: “Those old songs are my lexicon and my prayer book […] I believe in Hank Williams singing I Saw the Light. I’ve seen the light, too.”

Nevertheless, “One More Night” is neither “still around” nor “still being performed”. Dylan himself performs the song only once, and not even really. It’s 6 June 1990, Dylan is in Toronto, has just played the fourteenth song on the set list and then says:

“Hero of mine … Ronnie Hawkins! Where is he? He said he would come up and sing a song … called One More Night. It would be awfully nice if he would come up. If he doesn’t want to come up that’s okay too! … All right … Oh, here he comes now!”

… and then has Ronnie The Hawk Hawkins sing “One More Night”. A gesture of appreciation, presumably – Hawkins is one of the very few artists to ever record a cover of the song. And was there early; Ronnie’s cover is the opening song of his eponymous 1970 solo album, produced by Dylan producer Jerry Wexler, with Duane Allman on guitar. The real highlight is the opening song of Side Two, Hawkins’ brilliant cover of Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings”, but Ronnie himself apparently thinks “One More Night” is a stronger entrant.

 

Not exactly an unforgettable performance, but then again, there’s nothing wrong with it. And we have to hand it to The Hawk: although he approaches the flatness and the emotionlessness of Dylan’s original, he can’t suppress a little sob here and a half-breaking of the voice there.

————–

Jochen is a regular reviewer of Dylan’s work on Untold. His books, in English, Dutch and German, are available via Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle:


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7 Responses to One More Night (1969) part 2 (final). I believe in Hank Williams

  1. Jochen is a irregular reviewer of Dylan’s work on Untold…..and Hank Williams.

    Being brief, this is new to me that I never heard on the radio during all my 15 years trucking livestock into Clarksville, Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. And I doubt Bob would’ve heard himself there too.

    As a huge follower of Hank Sr. at age 6 on. Bob’s tributes were simply from a legendary, iconic Rock music star for a legendary, iconic Country Music star.

  2. Larry Fyffe says:

    Jochen’s not at all saying that Dylan’s ‘One More Night’ became popular and so you’d expect to hear it on a truck radio . …rather that Ray Price later made a Kristofferson song popular … with both songs showing a Hank Williams influence.

  3. Jochen begins, “While the lyrics may be somewhat distinctive in form, the musical accompaniment is not, nor is there much to enjoy in terms of content. In terms of content, the lyrics offer little or no sparkling poetry or other fireworks; it is mainly a string of country clichés.”

    Larry, That first part just reminded me of those plentiful UK rock critics and amateurs at same being so crass, unjustly so, over Pink Floyd’s first album after Roger Waters ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ born in 1986 and finished during 1987. That’s all.

    Jochen’s light criticism was mild compared to the hard hits Floyd’s new work received that’s never ending to date!

    As the sole confidante on Pink Floyd to the late Fox Mulder of Rock history and mysteries author R. Gary Patterson. I finally discovered Untold Dylan so long after 1997 and wow!.

    My daughter Sarah treated me to Bob and The Band’s concert at Mesker Amphitheater in Evansville, IN on my birthday. And their new album had plenty of jumpiness alright.

    Ref Mickey Dolenz lead singer and drummer for the Monkees: My actor cousin Robert Lowery was Mickey’s mentor as Big Tim Champion with his part being adopted as ‘Circus Boy’, during 1957-58.

    Best, C.J.W.

  4. Cody J. W. says:

    Pardon this tablet’s rewriting words, built in abilities. Grr!

    If a dedicated Untold Dylan moderator could edit my post to fix it I’ll be forever indebted to them.

    “Lapse” not Paper!

  5. Larry Fyffe says:

    My tablet too thinks it knows what I intend to write, and attemps to make me say the exact opposite of what I want to say ….it hates me , but I’ve got no idea what I keyed in that hurt its feelings.

    Dylan ventures into folk music and country music as well as blues and rock so critics who expect a guitar-pickin’ “Kafka Stole My Baby When I Turned Into A Bug” are bound to frown.

  6. Cody J. W. says:

    How great thou art, Tony and I’ve read your bio related to the study of music and much more for you to be proud of, many thanks!

    And a Lapse of many reasons it was!

    Hey up in Massachusettes to Larry. You are telling it right in your knowledge of Bob Dylan’s non stop love for every music genre known to mankind.

    These tablets are too smart for our own good peace of mind by using their mind at will!

    Look up John Endecott’s bio on Wikipedia. I’m a direct descendant of your first and then a further five times governor who bull whipped to shreds the red cross on England’s Cross of St. George flag!

    Best, Cody J.W.

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