Hank Williams’ Classic “I Saw The Light” Was Inspired by an Airport Tower
It was January 1947 when 24 year old Hank Williams Sr. was returning home from a gig. The concert had been in Fort Deposit, Alabama, less than 50 miles from the home Hank shared with his mother in Montgomery. During that hour long drive, Hank had passed out in the back seat as his mother Lilly drove.
Just south of Montgomery on the road from Fort Deposit sits the Dannelly Field airport. It's hard to miss the airport's big beacon that throws a huge light over the Alabama plains. When Lilly first saw the flashing light on the horizon she exclaimed over her shoulder to Hank,
Hank-I see the light
Indicating they were close to home. Hank never forgot that moment and very soon he had written one of his classics tunes, "I Saw the Light". It was recorded at Hank's first recording session with MGM records in April of 1947 and was released in 1948. It didn't immediately take the music industry by storm, but it slowly grew in popularity until it became a gospel standard.
Soon Hank was ending all his concerts with the tune. On Jan 1,1953 Hank was scheduled to appear in concert at Canton, Ohio, but he had died earlier that morning. When it was announced on stage that Hank had died, the crowd would not believe it and thought the emcee was making an excuse for a drunk Hank. It was not until another singer booked on the show, Hawkshaw Hawkins, came on stage and sang "I Saw the Light," would the audience believe Hank was really gone. They helped Hawkshaw finish the song.