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"Cold, Cold Heart" is a country music and popular music song, written by Hank Williams. This blues ballad is both a classic of honky tonk and an entry in the Great American Songbook. Williams first recorded and released the song in 1951.
The song achingly and artfully describes frustration that the singer's love and trust is unreciprocated due to a prior bad experience in the other's past.
That same year, it was recorded in a pop version by Tony Bennett with a light orchestral arrangement from Percy Faith. This recording was released by Columbia Records as catalog number 39449. It first reached the Billboard magazine charts on July 20, 1951 and lasted 27 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1.
The popularity of Bennett's version has been credited with helping to expose both Williams and country music to a wider national audience.
Allmusic writer Bill Janovitz discusses this unlikely combination:
"That a young Italian singing waiter from Queens could find common ground with a country singer from Alabama's backwoods is testament both to Williams' skills as a writer and to Bennett's imagination and artist's ear."
Williams subsequently telephoned Bennett to say, "Tony, why did you ruin my song?" But that was a prank – in fact, Williams liked Bennett's version and played it on jukeboxes whenever he could. In his autobiography The Good Life, Bennett described playing "Cold, Cold Heart" at the Grand Ole Opry later in the 1950s.
The story of the Williams–Bennett telephone conversation is often related with mirth by Bennett in interviews and on stage; he still performs the song in concert. In 1997, the first installment of A&E's Live By Request featuring Bennett (who was also the show's creator), special guest Clint Black performed the song, after which Bennett recounted it.
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