Tracks

Hank Williams favourite song

Reverend Edward Clayborn

Death Is Only A Dream

Vocalion Records

Release Date: April 23rd, 1927

Words by: Sam Pethers & Roland Ellis
April 24th, 1965

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In 1952, Hank Williams, the man who Bob Dylan once called the greatest songwriter that ever lived, said in an interview that his all time favourite song was "Death Is Only A Dream". In the same interview, Williams also remarked that his favourite food was fried chicken, that he learnt guitar from an old negro, and that his hobby was...writing songs.

Hank Williams favourite song Hank Williams circa 1952

The lyrics for "Death Is No More Than A Dream" were first written by Reverend C.W Ray and published in Living Songs For The Sunday School in 1892. Although very little was documented about songwriters like Ray, we do know that he was from Mississippi. And given the great number of timeless Gospel classics that came out of MS in the nineteenth century, one could be forgiven for concluding that something ethereal or divine was in the air down there.

It's certainly true that during the 1900s Mississippi was a place of both profound pleasure and turmoil - its position as "the Golden Buckle on the Cotton Belt" of America meant great wealth and prosperity for some; while the state's oppression of southern blacks and Chickasaw Indian tribes meant great pain for others. As history tells us, conditions that yield both agony and ecstasy have also been perpetually responsible for birthing great works of art.

Reverend Edward Clayborn, also known as 'The Guitar Evangelist', recorded "Death Is Only A Dream" in 1927. His version was re-released in 2006 by Mississippi Records on the blues compilation album Last Kind Words (well worth tracking down a copy if you haven't heard it).

The song reached the airwaves when The Carter Family picked it up in 1939. But Clayborn's was surely the definitive version.

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