In the early 1950s, country music had just begun to make its presence felt outside of the Deep South. Perhaps no one did more to advance the genre than Hank Williams (Great American Things, February 11, 2010) whose hits “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” (1950), “Cold Cold Heart” (1951), and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (1952) all were among the top ten hits of the year.
Williams recorded “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in his final recording session in September, 1952. He died on January 1, 1953 at the age of 29, and this song was released later in the year. It went to number one on the country chart, where it stayed for six weeks. It was the number two song of 1953.
Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time considered “Your Cheatin’ Heart” number 213, one of the worst judgments on that entire list. A better ranking comes from CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music, which named this Hank Williams classic number five. (As a side note, Your Cheatin’ Heart is also the title of a biographical film about Williams that starred George Hamilton. George Hamilton?)