Family Tradition

Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. & Friends

In 1975, Hank Williams, Jr. finally broke from beneath the long shadow of his legendary father. He did so by recruiting some of his ?friends? and recording an album ranging from hardcore honky-tonk to country rock rather than the sweeping Nashville weepers and namesake, imitation covers of his past. Junior?s unruly brand of redneck rock ?n roll wouldn?t find mass appeal until 1979?s Family Tradition; however, Hank Williams, Jr. & Friends is one of the finest country records of the last 30 years. On it, Junior puts his indelible, baritone stamp on a pair of Marshall Tucker Band tunes and a folk number co-written by Shel ?Boy Named Sue? Silverstein. The remaining cuts Junior penned himself, including ?Stoned at the Jukebox,? a potent rewrite of his father?s classic ?I Can?t Help It If I?m Still In Love With You? and ?Living Proof,? wherein Junior grapples with the perils of being the son of a legend. The song contains the lines ?Don?t let my son ever touch a guitar / never let him sing the blues.? Fortunately, Hank III didn?t heed the old man?s advice. (Mercury Records 1975/2001).

Hank Williams Sr.
40 Greatest Hits

Combating chronic back pain with heavy doses of alcohol and pills, Hank Williams was found dead in the back of a Cadillac while en route to a show Jan. 1, 1953. He was all of 29 years old. Although his career lasted a mere five years, Williams is still regarded as the father of modern country music. Hit songs he wrote such as the bouncy ?Move It On Over? and ?Mind Your Own Business? also helped pave the road for rock ?n roll.

Williams was a sublime stylist (?Lovesick Blues,? ?Lost Highway?) as well as a first-rate tune smith (?Your Cheating Heart,? ?I?m So Lonesome I Could Cry?). The tall, lanky, Alabamian used his high, lonesome howl to render heartache dotted with wit and humor.

Williams? influence is incalculable; everyone form Jerry Lee Lewis and Linda Rondstandt to Van Morrison and Tony Bennett have scored with his originals. However, the only way to experience the music of the Hillbilly Shakespeare is to hear the man sing himself. (Polygram 1978/2001).

Wade Tatangelo is a senior majoring in creative writing and can be reached at