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Remembering Don Williams

A couple of weeks ago, the music industry lost another amazing talent. Don Williams recently passed and once again I find myself a young boy, riding in my dad’s rusty pickup and bonding with him through country music. Williams was an important part of my musical education and if I try very hard, I can still hear Dad’s voice accompanying him.

By all counts Williams was a hell of a gentlemen and his nickname of the ‘Gentle Giant’ of country music bears this out. His music was covered by many, including Eric Clapton on ‘Tulsa Time’. If the measure of a musician’s career is the impact it has on their peers, then Williams was a success.

For me, always the romantic, Don Williams was at his best when he sang about love. ‘Listen to the Radio’ is still my favorite. It’s about a man that can’t find the right words to tell a woman how much he loves her. So he pleads with her to dance with him and listen to the songs, and understand that is how he feels about her. Williams’ amazing baritone adds the perfect emphasis to every word.

The words I’d say
Don’t seem to sound as real
The songs they play
That’s how I really feel.
Listen to the radio


My other favorite is certainly ‘Boys Like Me’. It talks wistfully about the kind of Southern upbringing that many of us are nostalgic about. In a South that is constantly re-assessing its identity, Williams reminds us of a few of those touchstones for certain generations.

I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees
And Those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me,
Hank and Tennessee.
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be,
So what do you do with good ol’ boys like me?


On ‘I Believe in You’ Williams once again returns to the subject of love. He carefully lists all of the things he believes in, but at the end of each stanza, he reiterates how he believes in her. His voice again adds a certain sincerity that one can only imagine melted a heart or two.

And I’m an ordinary man sometimes I wonder who I am
But I believe in love I believe in music I believe in magic and I believe in you


At 42, I seem to be hitting that age where so many of my heroes are disappearing. It’s bittersweet. I absolutely believe the world is a little less bright with these people gone, but it also gives me a chance to reflect on the things that helped make me the person I am today. Good country music is a big part of that story. Don Williams, you will be missed.


Listen to the Radio

Don Williams – Listen To The Radio

Good Ole Boys Like Me

Don Williams-Good Ole Boys Like Me (With lyrics)

Believe in You

Don Williams – I Believe In You

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Mike Dwyer is a writer in Louisville, KY. He writes about culture and the outdoors for Ordinary Times. He is also one of several Kentucky authors featured in the book This I Believe: Kentucky. Mike is active on Facebook and Instagram. He lives with his wife and daughters in the distant suburbs, at the place where neighborhoods give way to farms and forest.

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2 thoughts on “Remembering Don Williams

  1. Thanks for writing this, Mike. I hadn’t remembered the name, but Don Williams was one of my grampy’s “modern” favorites. (Grampy was friendly acquaintances with Hank Williams, Jr., and one of those people that in an alternative timeline was a traveling musician instead of their actual job – in his case a nautical electrical engineer…)

    You brought back some good memories for me.


  2. I’m not a big country listener, but my father was. This is just the sort of thing he would have liked. Though I don’t know how much of it he knew, seeing he died in 1986.

    Worth the listen, and thanks for sharing.


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