Sign up for newsletter

Various Artists

I Saw The Light (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – 2016 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

Find it on Amazon

Subscribe to Country CD Reviews CD Reviews

CDs by Various Artists

British actor Tom Hiddleston is probably best known for playing Loki in the first Avengers film. Which seems fitting, since it would take super powers to take up the mantle of the Hillbilly Shakespeare in a new big budget biopic. (Although come to think of it, George Hamilton didn't set the bar particularly high in the last one, 1964's "Your Cheatin' Heart."). Hiddleston refused to take the easy way out and lip sync to Hank's songs. He worked hard to learn both vocals and guitar from executive music producer Rodney Crowell. For that he is to commended. It will no doubt make for a richer movie experience.

The soundtrack for that movie is another story.

It's not that Hiddleston does a poor job at the impossible task of channeling the master. He actually does a quite credible job. He's no Hank Williams, but neither are a million other singers who've been trying to be for years not months, and who were not handicapped with an English accent. If you saw Hiddleston fronting a cover band at your local bar, you wouldn't boo him off the stage. If you saw him in a movie you could easily suspend your disbelief and believe Hank lives - at least for two hours and three minutes.

But sitting at home or driving in your car with way fewer distractions is another story. You have to decide if you really want to hear a Hank impersonator - even a good one - when you've got all the original's music on your favorites playlist. Keep in mind that two of the six Williams songs on the soundtrack are novelty songs - "My Bucket's Got a Hole in it" and "Move it on Over" - and despite the film's title, "I Saw the Light" is not included.

Maybe some of the other tracks will help you decide. Some of them will be very familiar (Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby"), even if you associate them with another artist (Jo Stafford, not Patti Page, does "Tennessee Waltz"), and some you probably haven't heard in a long time (Eddy Arnold's 1948 number 1 "Anytime), or maybe ever ("Please Don't Let Me Love You" by George Morgan, the B-side of his biggest hit "Candy Kisses.")

One mystery that will hopefully be solved when the film is released is why they chose to include Emmett Miller's 1928 original version of "Lovesick Blues." Emmett was one of the last of the Blackface minstrels, and every musical historian should be aware of his contributions to what would become known as country music. For non-historians, his falsetto yodel may be a bit hard to take.