Tag Archives: Hank Thompson

100 Greatest Men: #54. Hank Thompson

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

A legendary star who performed for more than sixty years, Hank Thompson stayed relevant as country music slowly moved from a regional music to a national one.

Born and raised in Waco, Texas,  Thompson modeled his musical style after Texas swing greats like Bob Wills and Gene Autry.  After a stint in the navy,  Thompson developed his musical craft, putting together an outstanding backing band called the Brazos Valley Boys.   The band released a few singles on independent labels, before Tex Ritter landed them a major label deal with Capitol.

Thompson would record with Capitol for eighteen years, and most of his essential work would be recorded during that period.  Thompson and his band recorded scores of hits in the fifties, including classics like “The Wild Side of Life”, which spent fifteen weeks at #1.   Before Thompson finally went solo in 1968, the band had accumulated more than two dozen top ten singles.

Thompson was a pioneer in country music marketing, starring in the first color television variety show the genre had seen, and having the first tour with corporate sponsorship.  Along with Marty Robbins, he was one of the first to make full-length country albums with a unifying concept, and in 1961, he released country music's first big live album.

Thompson recorded solo material with Dot starting in 1968, which earned him a few scattered hits in the late sixties and the early seventies.   Like many of the country stars of his generation, his star dimmed with the arrival of the Nashville sound and the increasing urbanization (and suburbanization) of the genre's audience.  Still, he remained a huge concert draw around the world, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Thompson passed away in 2007, only a month after officially retiring from live performing.

Essential Singles:

  • Humpty Dumpty Heart, 1949
  • The Wild Side of Life, 1952
  • Rub-a-Dub-Dub, 1953
  • Wake Up, Irene, 1953
  • Wildwood Flower, 1955
  • Squaws Along the Yukon, 1957

Essential Albums:

  • Songs of the Brazos Valley, 1956
  • Dance Ranch, 1958
  • Songs for Rounders, 1959
  • At the Golden Nugget, 1961
  • A Six Pack to Go, 1966
  • Smoky the Bar, 1969

Next: #53. Brooks & Dunn

Previous: #55. Roy Clark

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “Just Because I’m a Woman”

1968 | Peak: #17

While we continue to notice tangible gender inequities in country music today, particularly the ratio of male artists versus female artists that are played on mainstream radio, the gap between what male and female artists can sing about has narrowed considerably. Moreover, it’s certainly not uncommon to hear a range of topics from female singers that reveal the strength of independent minded, empowered women.

In 1968, however, women’s anthems were not so common or accepted and if they were, it was somewhat of an anomaly. While Kitty Wells had a smash with “It Wasn’t God who Made Honky Tonk Angels” in 1952, written as an answer to Hank Thompson’s “Wild Side of Life”, the recording and release of Dolly Parton’s 1968 single “Just Because I’m A Woman” was still a bold move at the time.

Written in response to her husband’s disappointment that he was not her first sexual relationship, even though she was not his first either, Parton points out “my mistakes are no worse than yours, just because I’m a woman.” She even goes as far to detail the glaring double standard by observing: “Now a man will take a good girl/ And he’ll ruin her reputation/ But when he wants to marry/ Well, that’s a different situation.”

The tune is not especially catchy and it’s not bolstered by a raucous production like some of country music’s favorite anthems of today, but those missing elements only make Dolly’s anthem of gender equity even more poignant as she sings with both tenderness and matter-of-factness regarding a hypocritical attitude that still exists in 2011.

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: A

Listen: Just Because I’m a Woman

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