Yodel Kid Piggybacks Through Times Square

By
Photography Daniel Arnold

Published September 5, 2018

“The tops of my soles don’t touch the ground,” says Mason Ramsey, staring wistfully at the size-seven pair of gray-green python cowboy boots that he wore on Good Morning America three days earlier. The performer, more commonly known as Yodel Kid (and on social media as @lilhankwilliams), is in New York surfing a second wave of media appearances after a video of him singing Hank Williams’s “Lovesick Blues” at an Illinois Walmart went viral earlier this year. “The funny thing is that Mason was raised without cable television or internet,” his publicist says. “He and his grandparents didn’t even know about the video until Ellen called.”

In person, the 11-year-old somehow feels both extremely old and extremely young. From a young age, he began performing at his grandfather’s barbeques, belting country tunes that stretch deep into the pre–Elvis Presley history of the genre. “I started when I was about 3, and worked and worked and worked. I sang at nursing homes, Walmarts, and still didn’t get no place. But I had this feeling that I was almost there,” Ramsey says. “And then this happened. I’ve already played the Grand Ole Opry—and now here I am in New York.”

Watching Ramsey walk across Times Square is like watching someone rip a little hole through space-time. Passersby are sucked into his gravity. “Hey, Little Hank!” a man shouts from a white Ford F-150. Ramsey responds in kind by sending a piercing yodel down 44th Street, reminding those within earshot how similar the skyscraper-lined terrain of Manhattan is to the inside of a Looney Tunes canyon.

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Piggyback Ride by Pergo
Special Thanks: The Knickerbocker