Kaw-Liga (/kɔːˈlə/ kaw-ly-jə) is a country-music song written by Hank Williams and Fred Rose. Backed by the Drifting Cowboys, Hank Williams recorded the song in Nashville in September 1952 and the single was released posthumously in January 1953 on the MGM Records label. It remained No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart for 14 weeks. The flipside, "Your Cheatin' Heart, remained No. 1 on the country chart for 6 weeks.[1] Kawliga is a community in central Alabama on lake Martin. Named after an Indian in which, a wooden statue was made in his likeness. Hank was staying in a cabin ,that still stands today, looking out his window at the statue when he wrote the song.


 [hide*1 Song


"Kaw-Liga" is a song about a wooden Indian, Kaw-Liga, who falls in love with an "Indian maid over in the antique store" but does not tell her so, being, as the lyrics say:

Too stubborn to ever show a sign,
Because his heart was made of knotty pine.

The Indian maid waits for Kaw-Liga to signal his affection for her, but he either refuses or is physically/emotionally unable (interpretations vary) to talk, ever the stoical Native American of the popular stereotype.[1] Because of his stubbornness, Kaw-Liga's love continues to be unrequited, with Hank Williams, the narrator/singer of the song lamenting,

Poor ol Kaw-liga, he never got a kiss,
Poor ol Kaw-liga, he don't know what he missed,
Is it any wonder that his face is red?
Kaw-liga, that poor ol' wooden head.

The song ends with the Indian maid being bought and taken away from the antique store by a buyer, leaving Kaw-Liga alone,

As lonely as can be,
And wishes he was still an ol' pine tree.

Cover versions[edit]Edit

Hank Williams's son, Hank Williams Jr., recorded a cover which peaked at number twelve on the Billboard country singles chart in the summer of 1980.

"Kaw-Liga" has also been covered by artists such as Charley PrideRoy OrbisonMarty RobbinsLoretta LynnBoxcar WillieJohnny CashDon McLeanBig Sandy & His Fly-Rite BoysNew Riders of the Purple Sage and Jayke Orvis & the Broken Band.

Hank owned a cabin in Kowaliga Bay on Lake Martin, Alabama. The home was privately owned by Hank's daughter Jett Williams and was donated to Children's Harbor. Children's Harbor is a not for profit camp for seriously ill children and their families. The camp does not allow tours of the cabin at this time but does host weddings and functions when camp is not in session.

The avant-garde band The Residents recorded the song for their album Stars & Hank Forever: The American Composers Series, replacing its original backing music with the bassline of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. This was more than likely a reference to Williams' wife, who was named Billie Jean.


  1. ^ Jim Dawson, & Steve Propes (1992). What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 111–114. ISBN 978-0-571-12939-3.

External links[edit]Edit

Preceded by

"Eddy's Song" by Eddy Arnold

Country & Western National Best Sellers number one single

(Hank Williams with His Drifting Cowboys version) February 21, 1953

Succeeded by

"Mexican Joe" by Jim Reeves

Preceded by

"The Wild Side of Life" by Hank Thompson

Billboard C&W National Best Sellers

number-one single of the year 1953

Succeeded by

"I Don't Hurt Anymore" by Hank Snow

Preceded by

"While Your Lover Sleeps" by Leon Ashley

RPM Country Tracks number one single

(Charley Pride version) April 7-April 14, 1969

Succeeded by

"The Name of the Game Was Love" by Hank Snow

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.