This is the 64th anniversary of a recording session at Castle Studio in Nashville that was both productive and poignant. 23 September, 1952 marked the final studio booking for Hank Williams, a little over three months before his death at the age of just 29.
It was an engagement that would yield no fewer than three country No. 1s, including the song that, posthumously, became his last, 'Take These Chains From My Heart.' The session also saw Williams tape 'Kaw-Liga' and 'Your Cheatin' Heart,' both sides of which topped the country chart, separately and consecutively, as well as 'I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You.' That appeared as the b-side of the single with which Hank was charting at the time of his death, the eerily-titled 'I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive.'
'Take These Chains From My Heart' was released by MGM as the follow-up to 'Kaw-Liga' and 'Your Cheatin' Heart,' and soon became another country bestseller, his 11th in a span of some four years. Hank had three further top ten country hits after his death, two more in 1953 and one final one in 1955.
It's also quite apt that 'Take These Chains' was recorded on what was the 22nd birthday of a man who became almost as closely associated with the song as Williams, the great Ray Charles. At least 60 other artists have also covered it over the years, including country stars from George Jones to Ernest Tubb, Glen Campbell to Sonny James and Ray Price to Dottie West. Others who were compelled to cut a version included Rick Nelson, Dean Martin, Anne Murray and Raul Malo.