It was the summer of 1982. I was 11 years old and was either gonna be an NFL football player or a professional fisherman when I grew up. I spent Monday thru Friday working for hours at my Grandmother’s, where I shoveled horse stalls, fed calves and mowed/raked the yard for spare monies. In my downtime I would head out into the pasture that was their backyard with my tackle box, fishing rod and my best Bill Dance swagger.
Those were good times. Taking a puff off a cigarette would be one of my firsts that summer, which would also include my first taste of Jack Daniels, my first (and only) attempt to dip Copenhagen, and also my first memorable encounter with Hank Williams Jr. It happened on rainy morning while I was reorganizing my tackle box. There it was on the table, Hank Williams Jr.’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1. I stuck it in the tape player, pressed play, and I went back to my tackle box. The moment I heard “A Country Boy Can Survive,” I was obsessed. Fuck the tackle box, I wanna hear that again.
[Rewind] [Stop] [Play] more [Rewind] [Stop] [Play] more [Reeeeeewind] [Stop] [Play] oops [Fast Forward] [Stop] [Play] shit! [Rewstop] [Play] close enough.
That acoustic guitar…the Mississippi river…something called a stock market…a woman! dogs! GUNS AND TRUCKS! Country folks can Survive! We grew good ol’ tomatoes and homemade wine (hey, my family does that!)….here comes the chorus…Cause you can’t stomp us out and you can’t make us run cause one of them ol’ boys raisin’ his old shotgun…we say grace and we say ma’am and if you ain’t into that we don’t give a damn….oh shit! he said damn!...then a dead friend from that Yankee New York city….
Done. After repeated listens I moved on. “Dixie On My Mind”! More shit talk about New York! “Family Tradition”, “Whiskey Bent”, “Old Habits” and “All My Rowdy Friends”. I begged my Grandmother to take me to buy a blank tape so I could record this….this, the GREATEST TAPE EVER!
Over time, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t “the greatest tape ever,” but it probably is the best Hank Jr. album ever. Through my rock phase, punk phase, metal phase, new wave phase, goth/industrial phase and every other phase a person goes through growing up, I always had a copy of this album. When I finally got my first CD player it was one of the first cd’s I bought…it and Skatenigs, Stupid People Shouldn’t Breed.
Autopsy IV fact: I’ve performed Karaoke exactly one time in my life. I was drunk and I did “Family Tradition” at my local drinkers’ bar….Hank, why do ya drink? TO GET DRUNK! Why do you roll smoke? TO GET STONED! Why must you live out the songs that you wrote? TO GET PAID!…yup, it was a total sing-along.
And if you think I ain’t listening to this on my way home today, then you are just plum silly.
In case you were wondering: Kid Rock is not related to Hank Williams in any fashion what so ever. As Hank III says in Not Everybody Likes Us:
Just so you know, so it’s it’s set in stone, Kid Rock don’t come from where I come from:
Yeah, it’s true, he’s a Yank, he ain’t no son of Hank:
If you even thought so, god-damn, you’re fucking dumb.