Even though I’m not a big country music fan, one of Hank Williams III’s albums came across my desk one day and I just had to put it on. I mean, how could I not, being a self-proclaimed hell raising aficionado, and considering the title was, Straight To Hell. As I meandered through the thirteen songs, I soon realized that this was a man after my own heart: a rebel without a cause.
The fact that he came from a long line of shit kickers almost guaranteed that he turned out like he did. Hank senior fought alcoholism and pills for years before they put him into an early grave but left us with a catalog of some of the most wonderful songs ever written. It almost hurts to think of what else he might have created if he’d lived longer. Hank Jr., on the other hand, fought being compared to his father his whole life…and did a pretty good job of creating his own style of music. Normally, by the time you get to the third generation, you end up with a slug-like character reminiscent of Spaulding from “Caddy Shack.” Instead, Hank III picked up where his daddy left off and carved out his own rebellious path tormenting Nashville with a brand of punk country rebel that they’d never seen before.
Nobody defines living on the edge better than Hank III does with songs like, “Thrown Out Of The Bar” and, “My Drinkin Problem.” Anyone who can write lyrics like, “I been beat up bad, I been kicked around, I been thrown out of every damn bar in this old town” deserves a degree in Raising Hell from the School of Hard Knocks.
Yes, I’m sure living in the shadows of his legendary grandfather and father must have been tough growing up. I can’t even imagine. I say that because I grew up in quite the opposite setting. I don’t think anyone knew my parents outside of Vermilion County, except for a few relatives and college friends. That doesn’t mean that they were any less exceptional. On the contrary, they were quite exceptional considering where they started from in life and where they ended up. It just means that very few people knew about it. And that’s fine with me.
I can see it now, Hank III and I sitting at Bobby’s Idle Hour dive bar on the east side of Music Row throwing back shots of Jack Daniels and trading guitar licks. Hank would down his shot, howl at the moon and then proceed to fall off his bar stool onto a table of tight ass cowboys just itching for a fight. Three punches and two missing teeth later, we’d belly back up to the bar and pat each other on the back.
Hank III would whip around and answer, “Ain’t nothin’ sacred no more?”
Then we’d all sing a rowdy rendition of “You Don’t Have To Call Me Darling” while the rest of the bar joined in…Good times.