Truth be told, Holly Williams brought me and many of my hardened colleagues to tears. The singer-songwriter has a magnificent way with words and phrasing, not to mention a country-music lineage that fills her with pride and guides her poignancy and subject matter.
Country is in her blood: As the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and half-sister of Hank Williams III, she’s also the granddaughter of the ultimate country legend, Hank Williams Sr. That said, it was a song about the other side of her family, “Waiting on June,” that brought us to tears that day. It’s a song about her grandparents on her mom’s side, married for 56 years, and it tells a tale of love and unwavering dedication; of two kids meeting in a cotton field and the love that fills their lives through war, birth and death.
We were slower than we used to be
The nursing home told June and me
That we’d have separate rooms side by side
Oh, what I’d give for one more night of sleeping with my wife
Since ‘45, I’ve touched her skin in the middle of the night
So I’m lyin’ in this single bed until they cut the lights
That’s when she’ll sneak in and I’ll be fine
Holly Williams came to the Tiny Desk still able to hide her pregnancy behind her guitar. She’s married to musician Chris Coleman, and it’s easy to imagine that some years down the line, their offspring will sing new songs about ageless feelings of love and hurt, happiness and tragedy. Country music doesn’t die.
- “Waiting On June”
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Olivia Merrion; Production Assistant: Alex Schelldorf; photo by Olivia Merrion/NPR