Version Tracker: Rolling down the “Lost Highway” with Hank, Billy Bob, and Jeff Buckley

Version Tracker examines how different artists have performed the same song over the years, adapting it to suit their own needs and times.

Leon Payne was just a lad—nearly 22—when he hit the road with Western swing bandleader Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1938. Payne, blind since boyhood, had taken up music as a vocation at Austin’s Texas School For The Blind, and as a teenager was already a regular on the radio. But he developed even more rapidly when he joined the Playboys, honing his smooth vocal style while writing his own songs about heartbreak and sin. By the end of the 1940s Payne had his own group, the Lone Star Buddies, and he was pumping out future country music standards like “I Love You Because,” “They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me,” “You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart,” “Psycho …

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