Hank, why were you so big?
Here’s a Nashville ghost story served up for you on the scariest day of the year.
Gary Gentry is an award winning songwriter who has written for some of the biggest legends in Nashville like Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and George Jones.
But it’s his encounter with this county music outlaw that is his best story.
Gary had just finished filming a movie at the Ryman Auditorium called “The Hank Williams Tribute - The Man and his Music,” when he received a call from his friend and promoter, J.B. Detterline, Jr.
J.B. wanted to co-write a song with Gary about Hank and Lefty Frizell, another Nashville legend.
So they sat down to write the song and they finished about 10pm that night.
J.B. thought they had a hit on their hands and decided to call it a night.
Gary thought it wasn’t good enough for his favorite entertainer of all time so he didn’t stop.
Back in those days, especially for Gary, songwriting and drinking went hand in hand. So he kept writing and drinking that night while getting more frustrated with his work.
Gary was living at the Country Place apartments in Nashville at the time. It was now the middle of the night and he wanted to see Hank himself.
So, he turned off the lights, lit some candles and in an alcohol fueled rage said, “Hank! Why were you so big? Just because you died young? Show yourself! Help me write this song.”
As he looked down the long hallway of his apartment, Gary saw Hank Williams Sr. shirtless and sitting on the couch in his living room.
And then Gary said, "Hank, we're gonna take a ride. I wanna write about you. I think you're the greatest songwriter and entertainer that ever lived.”
So, at 4am in the living room of his tiny apartment, the song “The Ride” was born.
The song was later recorded by David Allan Coe, Tim McGraw, Ray Charles and Hank Williams Jr. With this happy ending, you’d think this would be the end of the story.
Several years later, Gary was performing the song for a TV show being filmed at the Grand Ole Opry.
And during the last verse, the lights and power to the whole complex mysteriously shut down.