delta rhythm boys cover

I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive
Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys
I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive

Song: I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive / I Could Never Be Ashamed of You

Artist: Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys

Record Label: MGM Records 11366

Recorded: June 13, 1952

Location: KNOV Radio Station, Hanger 6, Bill’s Safehouse

During the “Signal from Beyond” mission in Pima, New Mexico, Agent Carter and his squad will have to fight their way to the KNOV radio station to rescue Agent Nico DaSilva. Luckily, DaSilva has planted explosive ordnance around to perimeter to help fend off the Outsiders.

However, by the time Carter reaches DaSilva, he already shows signs of Infection as this song plays in the empty station lobby.

It seems to be a favorite of DaSilva’s as it plays when he visits the Hanger 6 Research and Development facility prior to his meeting with Agent Carter.

In Bill’s safehouse in Lincoln, Massachusetts, Joel calls in a favor for an automobile to escape to city. While they scavenge for parts, Ellie manages to swipe (among other things) a compilation cassette tape featuring the songs of Hank Williams. The solemn words provide some comfort as they drive through the desolate landscape in the rain.

This song was intended to be humorous with its ironic title and chorus. However, it gained a tragic connotation with Hank Williams’ death on January 1, 1953. It would posthumously reach No. 1 on Billboard Country Singles and was covered by the Delta Rhythm Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as by his son and grandson.

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Born in Alabama, he was named Hiram, reflecting his parents’ Masonic connections. However, he was born with spina bifida which would cause him immense pain in his lower back throughout his life. His father would develop a brain aneurysm, leaving his mother in charge of the family.

Despite the onset of the Great Depression and losing their family home in a fire, Lillie Williams made ends meet with several side jobs and the disability pension of her husband Elonzo. Stories conflict on how Hank got his first guitar, but he learned the fundamentals of music through Rufus Payne. Williams would be able to put his talent into songwriting despite never learning formal music notation, basing his compositions on storytelling.

In 1937, Williams changed his name from Hiram to Hank to better prepare for an entry into country music. He won talent shows and performed on air for WSFA radio, funding his career to form the Drifting Cowboys. Lillie would become their manager, successfully conducting tours around the country.

However, during WWII, his band members were drafted while he was deferred due to his back condition. He continued touring with replacements, but continued to have problems with alcoholism to mitigate the pain.

By 1946, he was a successful songwriter for Sterling Records and on December 11, recorded "Never Again” and “Honky Tonkin”. They would become his first hits and earn a contract with MGM Records in 1947. He would continue with hits such as “Move It On Over”, “Lovesick Blues” and “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It”. He made his debut at the acclaimed Grand Ole Opry, becoming the first performer to receive six encores.

He continued to release hits in the early 50s with “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Moanin’ the Blues”. In 1951, a fall during a hunting trip worsened his back pain leading to consumption and later abuse of painkillers and alcohol. His last recording session would be in September 1952 with “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Take These Chains from My Heart".

Williams was scheduled to perform in Charleston, West Virginia on December 31, 1952. However an ice storm in Nashville hindered conditions, forcing flight cancellations. A college student, Charles Carr, was hired to drive Williams to the New Year’s Day concert in Canton, Ohio. Williams had drunk a combination of chloral hydrate and alcohol. He saw a doctor who injected vitamin B12 and some morphine. By midnight, they had crossed the state line to Virginia and stopped at an all-night restaurant. Carr asked Williams if he wanted something to eat.

Williams’ last words was his reply that he did not. Stopping for fuel in Oak Hill, West Virginia, Carr realized that Williams had passed.

Despite his short life, Hank Williams proved to be a driving force behind 20th century pop and country music. He obtained 35 singles in the Top 10 of Billboard’s County & Western Charts with 11 reaching No. 1.

Listen to the flip side “I Could Never Be Ashamed of You”.