Hank Williams Jr.’s “Old School New Rules” = Rank Political Rancor

July 16, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  90 Comments

WARNING: If you know you already like this album, turn back now.

If I had to describe this album in one sentence it would be, “Bocephus walks into a studio, cuts on a mic, and begins to blow hard.” Old School, New Rules is a self-important, self-promoting, self-gratifying opus of an American doofus offering no real depth, wisdom, originality, or creative engagement. It is the Shock n’ Y’all of 2012; a political album that relies on the same old tired Hank Jr. modes, and marks a moment of egotistical grandstanding future generations will look back on with embarrassment.

The problem is Bocephus has bought into his own ethos even more than some of his hardcore fans. He truly believes he’s a mad genius with an arsenal of witty one-liners ready to let fly at any moment when in truth he’s in the throes of an egotistical mind fog. I love how the man wants to preach about how we should all live and how the government should run, yet he’s had how many divorces? Jr’s been a part of how many public embarrassments? Been to rehab how many times? And is currently estranged from his son and name sake? Same can be said for Steve Earle and other artists who like to lecture us on the liberal side of things. How about before you preach about the way things ought to be you get your own house in even some minor semblance of order?

This album isn’t just bad, it’s downright painful to listen to in places. Bocephus has adopted this singing style over the years where he sings the first half of a phrase, and then talks the second half for emphasis with these wild up-and-down inflections that are caustic to the ear. Listen:

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This album was dated before it even came out. You can hear Jr’s voice grinning as he’s makes points that he thinks are genius when in reality they fall flat, or are cliche, or in some instances, don’t even make sense. Saying “keep the change” in reference to Obama was tired 2 1/2 years ago, but Bocephus calls upon it multiple times in this album. Old School, New Rules creates its own set of cliches by the end, relying the same dumb lines and points over and over.

There’s also this alarming lack of congruency or flow in some songs like the opening track “Takin’ Back The Country,” which goes from his Fox & Friends debacle, to sampling two different Hank Williams songs, a horn section, Obama and EPA bashing, Facebook & Twitter all in a sonic structure that is horrifically Hank Jr. cliche. Good gosh man, just tell a story and try to relate it to some folks. At the end of this song, you feel like your brain was in a blender.

His flag-waving formula song “We Don’t Apologize For America” has the same problem. It starts off as one song and subject, and then becomes another. So does “Cow Turd Blues” where Jr. takes an okay song and ruins it by adding a completely embarrassing self-gratifying diatribe about himself in reference to his ESPN/FOX debacle, about how “There’s some things in this country you don’t mess with. And I am blessed to be on that short list.”

Who the hell says this about themselves?

The song “That Ain’t Good” is sold as some deep-minded treatise on modern-day American struggles when no single line really sells itself. “Old School” might be the most palatable take on the album, but broken down is just a vehicle for Bocephus to brag. Out of all of the songs, “Three Day Trip” is the absolute worst. Take the horrifically over-worn formula of the Kenny Chesney island song, add some humor as flat as a 3-week-old 3-liter of Pepsi, call a woman a “bitch”, and this song should be offensive to just about any and all real country fans.

Did Hank Jr. forget his old routine with Kid Rock where Jr. says in country music, “We don’t say ‘bitch’ we say ‘ma’am'”?

A lot of folks are going “Wow, I just heard “I’m Gonna Get Drunk And Listen To Hank Williams” on the radio, what a great song!” when this is the same song formula as “Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound”, and the same song Jr’s put on every single one of his albums since the history of ever. Take drinking and combine it with Hank song titles and walla, you’ve got a spot filled on the Hank Jr. track list.

Two cover songs, Hank Sr.’s “You Win Again” and Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink” offer a little respite from the rest of the album, but are excellent examples of when cover songs are unnecessary and really offer no new value to an existing composition.

I understand why people find appeal in Hank Jr. and in this album. It is because they identify with him and his message. I get that, I really do, but in no way is this album helpful to your cause or anyone elses. Instead it speaks to the very cause of the divisiveness in this country. In one breath, Bocephus is talking about how he refuses to give up his big V8, and then in another says he can’t explain why terrorists blow themselves up. Did he ever stop to think that the two might be interconnected? Instead he takes pride in his ignorance saying, “I don’t know.”

And I understand this is supposed to be a “fun” album, but with the massive politicization of the material, it is hard to have fun unless you agree with every word he says. And in fairness to Hank, he’s always put out these types of songs about being an old school, simple man who has difficulty relating to the modern world, almost to the point of making fun of himself. But for every “Dinosaur” song he’s released over the years, he’s released an “All in Alabama.” There used to be depth and balance, with one or two of the funny, opinionated songs per album. Now that’s most of what you get. Hank Jr has become a series of bits and cliches; a bad impersonation of a stereotype of himself.

These political albums rarely work, either for swaying public opinion, or as a piece of art. Neil Young’s Living With War or virtually anything from Todd Snider are also great liberal examples of this, but at least the points in these albums are lucid, and the material is original. It feels like Hank Jr. rushed this album out to profiteer off the election cycle, hindering some of his ideas that with a little more time and thought, could have come across with much more wit.

Hank Jr. got the wrong impression that bawdy political rancor is a positive way to create attention for yourself when the negative publicity from his Fox & Friends interview shined a spotlight on him.

Look, I still consider myself a Hank Jr. fan, and I will fight anyone who says his career back in the late 70’s, early 80’s wasn’t filled with some great songs. But this is a completely wrong direction to start off his post-Curb Records career. I’m not going to choose sides about whose at fault for the political state of America, but what I can say is that neither Obama, Bush, Romney, Hank Jr., Bruce Springsteen, or anyone else has more effect on your life or your state of affairs than you do. Talking down to the other side, which Jr. does with alarming ease on this album (“two and is four, do you get it?”) speaks to the mentality that if someone disagrees with you, they’re inherently stupid. This is exactly why the United States is wickedly polarized and in the midst of one of its biggest political stalemates in history: a fundamental lack of respect and simple-minded reactionary attitudes.

How about speaking to everyone? How about using subtly to talk about political struggles? How about trying to find common ground and understanding? How about simply telling a story that relates to the universal human condition and makes you feel something? Hank Jr. didn’t take one moment out of his political grandstanding and re-hashing of classics and cliches to do this. He should be better than this, and we all should be better than supporting it. This is beyond music. This isn’t Republican vs. Democrat, this is reactionary polarization against rationalization.

And I know what side I want to be on.

Two guns down!

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Preview & Purchase Tracks to Old School, New Rules

90 Comments to “Hank Williams Jr.’s “Old School New Rules” = Rank Political Rancor”

  • Lol! That was a great read.

  • *vomit*

  • I read the Rolling Stone interview with Jr. about this album (well…that’s what I thought it was going to be about). All he did was blah blah blah about politics, and most of that was apparently the same crap that’s on the album. He was asked why he thought Obama was “…against America…” and he couldn’t come up with one good reason. He cannot even defend the moronic statements he makes with any factual evidence. And let’s not forget that he was one of the first ones to call the Dixie Chicks unAmerican and unpatriotic because of what they said about W. Bush. I’m not trying to defend Obama, but if I want to read someone’s political views, I’ll pick up a newspaper. And If I want to go to a political rally, I’ll go to a political rally. I don’t go to a concert (or buy an album) to listen to anyone go on and on about politics. I know that musicians have been doing this since the dawn of time, but it’s a real turnoff for me…even if I agree with what they’re saying. As a musician, I try not to express my political views on stage. I don’t want to alienate ANY of our fans. What I’m getting at is if you want to support a polititian, play their rallies. Don’t spout off partisan bullshit when you’re doing a live performance for the general public. I guess Jr.’s such a big star that he doesn’t give a shit if he loses some of us. And btw…way to beat a dead horse, Jr. (re. the Fox & Friends/NFL debacle).

    • He’s out there making radical reactionary political statements because it makes headlines and draws attention to this lackluster album that certain folks will like despite their otherwise good taste in music because it appeals to their political affiliation.

      I think Hank Jr. had a completely different album in mind when he left Curb. And then when the FOX/ESPN thing went down, he decided to shelve that material for this quickly thown-together political stuff because he saw how much attention this could get him.

      Like Whitey Morgan once said:

      “That’s what I want to tell somebody, you’re a fucking entertainer. I don’t give a fuck what you think about the state of the goddamn world. Fucking entertain me, that’s what I paid you to do. I know that’s pretty harsh, but that’s the way I feel sometimes. Where do they get off thinking they know best?”


      • That is a great quote, and I couldn’t agree more with Whitey.

        I really like “Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams.” Yeah, it’s a song he’s done over and over, but it’s also kind of what i want from Hank Jr. I like the Hank Sr. cover and the Haggard duet, too, but I agree that all the political junk really ruins it. I was hoping for something much better.

    • You must love Pearl Jam, then :)

  • I still hold Bocephus as one of my favorite artists ever. It’s sad to see what he’s become. He must be so insulated and surrounded by worshipers rather than friends. I have no problem with artists making their beliefs or ideas known. That’s what art is, if it happens to be “political” so be it. But, if the only thing being advocated is a sweeping election victory by an established political party, that doesn’t count as an idea.That’s actually the PROBLEM. Everybody and their uncle has all the answers in America. We need better questions.

  • Thank you for this article. It sums up my thoughts on this dreadful album far better than I ever could. I wonder if his decades long backslide shouldn’t make us question whether he actually wrote the songs for which he is so famous in the first place. How can one go from writing “Whiskey Bent” and “Family Tradition” to this load of crap?

    • The first thing I did after my sessions of listening to this album for review was to immediately go back and listen to classic Jr. to get the bad taste out of my mouth.

  • Great read! I agree with a lot of the things he has to say, but I found the lyrics from the album to be so poorly written and cliche that I could barely make it through the entire thing. Not only that, but the lyrics also tend to talk down to anyone listening, even if they might agree with the message.

  • I knew this was coming Triggerman. :-)

    He is probably the least of those who have had anything to do with polarizing the U.S. and only one of many many many who need to get their own house in order before stepping up the the soap box.

    That said, I agree with much of what you said and am still a fan and wish he would have made a better album. Best wishes to Hank Jr. in the future, don’t want to lose him too early like we did his daddy.

    • Despite how scathing this review might seem, I still consider myself a big classic Hank Jr. fan. I still love a lot of his classic songs and albums and listen to them regularly. The guy just needs to stop trying so hard to stay relevant, embrace his role as a legacy act in country music, and focus on songs.

      • ” The guy just needs to stop trying so hard to stay relevant, embrace his role as a legacy act in country music, and focus on songs.”

        Perfectly said.

      • I am hoping he reads your review and the comments and other reviews and realizes how many fans he has, and gets back on track. I cannot imagine the pressure being the son of thee Hank Williams, truly.

        I think he is angry about things the way many of us are and he is expressing it through song and did a too hurried up job on this album.

        We have to go back and look at Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Country Joe, Bob Dylan and a lot of people who expressed their feelings in song. Maybe some a lot better than Hank Jr., but…I guess I would rather a singer do a political song on THEIR album than not and then pull a surprise speech at a concert. At least if an artist does a political song, we know what is coming.

        .. I DO miss that NFL football song! Lol.

  • Was waiting for this. Pretty much nailed it. I laughed out loud at the Todd Snider thing, though. He puts out an awesome tune like “Old Times” then turns around with some lame song to make me feel bad for not recycling or some shit.

    However, it’s incredibly disappointing to me that the same man who wrote some of my favorite songs has just ran it into the ground this hard. “Dinosaur” is one of my favorite songs of all time…and now this…His brain must be completely fried at this point.

  • We need more like Jr….he’s on the right track, if you can’t see it then to bad for you, this country is not what it use to be and it started 3 years ago, you better wake up.

    • I’m not questioning his political opinions at all and he has a right to express them in songs. I agree with him. I think musically he has been better and can and will be great again.

    • All Jr. did with this album was prove that the intelligence and musical talent in the Williams family skipped his generation and went right from Sr. to III. Triggerman hit it right on the head with this review.

    • Jim, get an army together and start marching north. We’ll be here to greet you.

    • Jim, what exactly has gone so wrong in your life in the past 3 years that wasn’t on its way to that direction prior to it? The recession in which we are still mired began during the Bush Presidency, prior to Obama having any control over this country. The issues that led up to the recession in which we are still mired began before GW Bush took office. Obama did not make this mess, nor did he clean it all up. But he prevented the US auto industry from collapsing and sinking the entire midwest into a horrible depression. He also gave the executive command that led to Osama Bin Ladin’s execution. Tell me again what is so bad about his Presidency?

  • In the early 90’s, Hank Jr.s novelty songs began to take over his albums, and since then, he’s pretty much been mailing it in. The songs have no depth and he has very little to say. He jumped the shark in 1992 with “Fax Me a Beer” off the Maverick album. Thats as bad as it gets.

    Apart from Hank Jr. creativity running dry, part of this has to do with the change in times. In the 70’s/80’s, the South and Southern themes were very popular in various arts. Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marshal Tucker ruled the radio, Jimmy Carter was President and Dallas, Dynasty, In the Heat of the Night, etc. were on tv. I think that Hank Jr. was a fit for the times and benefitted from the country’s interest in all things Southern. This changed from the 1990’s to now, with huge population shifts to the South drowning out most of unique qualities that interested people from other parts of the country. Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, etc. are now just full of northern transplants and a generic plastic culture has overtaken the entire country, including what was once different and unique.

  • Good review. It’s possible to do a good/great political album– Dominc Behan’s “Easter Week and After” comes to mind, but I was pretty sure this one wasn’t going to be it. It helps, really helps, to have a sensahumma about it all and connect it to a story. Think of Merle Haggard’s many political moments. I don’t always agree with him (but often do) : his songs are always well stated, eloquent and often a bit funny or sad, usually focusing on a character or story to make larger points. That’s why Merle is brilliant and Hank Jr. is a buffoon. And Jr. has been pretty much since he fell off the mountain.

    • yeah even when haggards early songs had a line or attitude that made me cringe i still couldnt help loving the song. i dont care what he says now im sure he meant every word of “okie from muskogie” when he wrote it hehe.

  • Hey, man I didn’t think it was half.bad. certainly not of the.caliber of anything from before “born to boogie” but there were still some good songs on there. I know the political stuff will turn a lot of people off. Hell, I agree with most of Jr’s political stances and even I wish he would give it a rest sometimes. He has done and said some shit that has made me embarrassed to call myself a fan over the years(fax me a beer, the ‘f’ word, bartender, anything with kid rock) but I still stand stand by the man and I think if anybody dismisses this entire album because of the political songs, they’re only hurting themselves. I’ll admit that my expectations were pretty low but after the first listen, I’m pleasantly surprised. Just my 2 cents.

  • Merle Haggard writes songs intelligently and thoughtfully “America First” “What Happened” “I’ve Seen It Go Away” I may not agree with his politics either but he does it the right way.

    Hank Jr. just spews out ignorant (I’d hope drunken) rants.

    • Plus Merle is not predictably partisan. He’s not a reactionary. When he said in that recent interview that he wouldn’t vote for either Obama or Romney, I could respect his reasons for that position. I haven’t come to the exact same conclusion as he, but I can understand how a reasonable person could.

      • I’m gonna have to disagree about Merle.

        I love his music, but don’t like his political stuff. I think Okie from Muskogee is pretty good, but not his best and Fighting side of me is terrible.

        I kind of liked America First for the message; but as for his politicking, watching Merle Haggard claim that he wrote Okie from his father’s perspective and he never meant it is total B.S. He never once claimed that until 20 years after he wrote it and he decided to become a pothead.

        • I’m thinking more about Merle as I’ve been aware of him after becoming a fan, maybe fifteen years ago. He’s without question no leftie, but his views seem much more thought out than Hank Jr’s and not so knee-jerk partisan.

  • […] HA HA HA…I guess he didn’t like it.   […]

  • I agree with everything you said up their. It’s nice to see that their are some smart people still who listen to country music. It’s sad that he starts to bash the EPA for a bunch of moronic things that they didn’t even cause, when actually the Green Jobs offer far more jobs than if you invest in fossil fuels. It’s just ignorant, and I’m glad that at least not everyone agrees with him and that some people do realize that we have to get our asses together and start to build a green economy. And somehow, I think that some country artist should take on that approach not bash the EPA.

    • sorry and not bash the EPA

    • Jr.’s EPA comment is the perfect example of anecdotal politics. Yes, at some point someone wanted to build a house or put in a development and the EPA stopped them from concern about an endangered species. We can go back and forth about if that is right or wrong, but to then extend those one or two stories to a theory about how the EPA is the reason the whole US economy is in recession because of these massive regulations is the biggest of all stretches. Things like the devaluation of real estate are much bigger drags on the economy, and are really no specific President’s or party’s fault.

      • I actually heard someone say awhile back that the lack of an EPA-type body is what “helps China be so competitive.”

        Yep. And China has industrial cities that look worse than Pittsburgh or Detroit in the 1920s. That’s a great goal to shoot for.

    • Green jobs, sustainability, and energy independence ought to be the epitome of traditional American values. Instead, because of divisive politics, you’re either a SocialistMarxistCommunist or you’re in the pocket of Big Oil trying to roast the planet. Blaming Obama and the lib’ruls is just a mirror image of the Hope and Change BS that preceded it. The 2 parties oppose each other like a finger and a thumb. Why do we make enemies of our neighbors by playing this game? Such a waste.

  • I’m very conservative politically, but I think this is album is garbage. I really wouldn’t mind it is it’s politically reactionary and full of finger pointing, but the music is terrible and are the lyrics are really stupid.

    I do like I’m gonna get drunk and play hank williams though. Yes it’s a rehash of other Whiskey Bent, but so is Hellbound Glory’s Hank William Records and Hank III’s Country Heroes.

    One note on that song, however, is that he says “Whiskey Bent and Your Cheating Heart” so it’s both Hanks I guess. Maybe that fits best with the song, but why not have Brad Paisley say that line so he won’t sound so self-promoting.

  • When I think of Hank Jr, I like to think about “Stoned at the Jukebox”, “I’ve looked all over hell but heaven can’t be found”, “OD’d in Denver”,” Outlaws Reward”, “The Living Proof”, “Old Habits”, “Dinosaur”, “Now I know how George feels”, and “I’ve been down”. I give credit where credit is due and the man has talent and has laid out some great country music. Just seems like his music has lacked substance for the last 15 years or so…. As such a big fan of his past music, I feel sort of offended reading this review, but its nothing but the sad truth.

  • Don’t ask me how I know this, or why I care, but it’s voilà, not walla. Voilà is French, meaning it appears as if by magic. Walla is an Israeli web portal, or Arab slang meaning a sense of wonder (more of a question).

    Anyway… as a Yankee who didn’t grow up with any of Jr’s music, he’s seen up here as a bad stereotype. Now that I’m digging this genre of music, I’d like to explore more history of it and from the comments, I assume Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound is the album to get.

    • Inspired by the enthusiasm shown by many on this site, I picked up some of his albums from what seems to be his late 70’s/early 80’s classic period. I started with Whiskey Bent and Hellbound. Once happy with that, I went on to The New South, Habits Old and New, and The Pressure is On. Very happy with all of them.
      Another one I got that I don’t hear many people talk about here but has gotten much critical acclain is Hank Williams Jr. and Friends, which is pre-Curb. More of a classic country album. All of these of very affordable on CD. Actually cheaper than downloading.

      • The New South is my favorite album by Hank Jr. The late 70’s feel of that album just can’t be duplicated. It perfectly fits that time and place. Feelin’ Better, The New South, Tennessee, and Hank’s cover of Steve Young’s Montgomery in the Rain are highpoints.

  • Is it just me or is it ironic that both Jr. and III put out the worst albums of their careers after leaving CURB?

    • Appears Tim McGraw has taken a turn for the worse after leaving Curb as well (if that is possible)

    • Not defending Curb records, but here is the scoreboard:
      Tim McGraw- 0-1 with post Curb releases
      Hank3- 0-4 post Curb
      HankJr.- 0-1 post Curb

      Not saying that Curb was ever the answer, but clearly sometimes people need a little direction.

      • I think Guttertown was far from a failure.

        • I agree. I think Ghost to a Ghost had some redeeming qualities, but was a disapppointment overall. The other two I had no interest in.

        • I always looked at GtaG and guttertown as 2 sides of the same coin. Together, they’re the best thing Hank 3’s put out since straight to hell, imo.

    • I think Hank III is pretty much out of new ideas, too.

      • That was my first reaction after III’s latest cds, but I just saw him live, and I just didn’t care for any new ideas, it was one of the best concerts I’ve seen ever, not just III.And yes, I stayed for the full 3 1/2 hours.

        • I’ve seen Hank III live about a dozen times and I agree. His live shows are awesome. But I get a little tired of the cocaine/Devil/Hell/muddy dirt road/sin/I’m all alone themes over and over again. I think he peaked with Straight to Hell. Granted, its hard to top an album like that, but he’s been re-writing those same songs over and over again. I liked the direction of the music on his most recent album, but the lyrics were generally the same themes. I will still go to see him live and I will still buy his albums, but I think he needs to cut some new ground lyrically.

    • I will say the more i listened to hank 3 last album, the more i liked it. It reminds me of Tom waits music in a way, not just by its oddness but by its originality and how it doesnt always ‘settle in’ right away. Still cant get my freinds and fam to listen to it with me tho!

  • I really don’t mind artists expressing political views in their music if the music is, y’know, good. I’m off to the right somewhere, but still enjoy albums by Todd Snider (who I think is the cleverest song writer going right now — call me crazy), Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, etc. But if the music is bad, I don’t care what your views are.

    When I want to remember the “real” Bocephus, the one who actually wrote from the heart, I put on “Montana Cafe” from the album of the same name. Imagery doesn’t get much better than that song.

    • I thought that album was decent, but he went too far when he put out a song as arrogantly sexist as “Fat Friends.” I don’t care whether it was intended as a joke or not, that song is practically misogynist and ruined the whole album for me. And it stinks, too, because “Country State of Mind” is one of my favorite Jr. tunes.

  • HWJr is now the drunk in the bar who has something to say – now, listen now, this is risshy important – I SHAID LISTEN – YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO HEAR ENNYTHING THISH IMPORTANT AGAIN! EVER! – I know people – now listen…

    Meanwhile, he has wet his pants.

  • It just seems like Jr. considers himself the standard-bearer for conservative musicians because he, Toby Keith, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock are the only out loud ones I can think of, unless you consider Darryl Worley or whatever his name is relevant. It just seems that guys like Neil Young, Springsteen, Todd Snider, James McMurtry, and Steve Earle do it better (call me biased). Even as a left-leaner, I really want to see a conservative musician who writes good political songs. So far, it’s been nothing but mindless flag-waving. If anyone at SCM could point me to someone, that’d be great. Thanks.

    • I’ve always wondered why James McMurtry gets lumped in as some sort of lefty. His music is very populist and middle-American. Kind of a modern-day William Jennings Bryan. His message in “Can’t Make it Here Anymore” sounds as much like Pat Buchanan as it does like Ralph Nader. I guess it comes down to how you define right and left.

      • Well he talks about tax breaks for the rich, corporations outsourcing jobs, and speaks out against the war. To me, it’s pretty clear which side of the isle he’s on.

    • Rob,
      I know you said you are a left leaner and maybe don’t like Glenn Beck but he is having an event called Restoring Love and has worked with some awesome musicians who have created great music. Here are a couple. They may not be specifically “conservative” but it’s some good new stuff.


    • Toby Keith has said many times that he is a democrat and particularly an Obama groupie. There’s no way in hell that Kid Rock is a Conservative. He MIGHT be for lowering taxes and or pro gun, but he is mostly just a stereotypical burnt out hippie Occupy Wallstreet numbnuts. As far as a Conservative musician that presents themself intelligently. Ray Stevens (The Streak) made a whole album about the current political environment in a very humorus way. Hank JR’s “America TheWay I See It” is another Conservative album that was also done well.

      • If my memory is correct Toby Keith was one of the first to call the Dixie Chicks UnAmerican. That was in the Bush-era, so I guess he is just following the general opinion.

  • Hank Jr. is probably my favorite country artist of all time. It pains me to say that I’m not buying this album. He’s always had a hokey side to him, which to me was endearing. Like your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving being, in Jr’s words, “a little bit out of touch or politically incorrect.” Gradually the hokey side has taken over and now we have little more than a narcissistic musical pundit with songs having no more depth than soundbites.

    I’ve heard him say repeatedly that his best songs were written in a few minutes. Somewhere along they way it seemed like all of his songs started getting written in a few minutes with boring recitations of his semi-current public (though rarely private) dilemmas. Along the way, his skewed self-image as a geopolitical musical force was hardened by his buddy Kid Rock, a fellow narcissist with the grandiose belief he is the new Elvis. The result is TV punditry, choking a woman here or there, and musical crap like this. Someone should inform the “President of the Southern States” that, even in Dixie, there are term limits.

  • Hank Jr. is a politician and doesn’t even know it. He disagrees with the “other side” simply because they are on the other side. I.E. Jr. is a Republican so anything Democrat he won’t even consider it even if it is a good thing.
    So he spews garbage and has no facts to back it up. He is just disagreeing to disagree. Sad really.

  • i think Jr. is completley burned out. i havent liked a full album since five-o. he’s had good songs but no good full albums. miss the old bocephus.

  • Wasn’t it better when Buck just stood up there with his red white and blue guitar and never made any other statement one way or the other?

  • I bought this CD and it is in my grocery bag (actually 1 of 2 bags with unopened discs) to be opened, played and put on my hard drive, along with every other CD Bocephus has put out.

    I generally agree with his politics, but if it’s bad music (like some of his CDs have been on occasion), I won’t like it.

    I thought his and ESPN’s act was getting quite stale (along with the overplayed theme song) many years before they parted ways.

    I actually thought that his affiliation with ESPN, which places a grossly undue emphasis on the importance of sports (e.g. the recent ESPYs), reflected somewhat of an establishment sellout on his part.

    With few exceptions (Friday Night Fights), ESPN quit being a decent network many years ago, perhaps in part because so many of the professional and collegiate athletes it covers are thugs.

    Monday Night Football, in particular, is a complete bore.

    I have avoided the anti-war screeds of Neil Young and Steve Earle, even though I have all of their other CDs and like them a lot as musicians, because I disagree with their politics. Those CDs may or may not be good (virtually all of their other efforts certainly are) – I will never know because I don’t care to listen to their political comments.

    I saw Hank Jr in concert 2 years ago and he put on an outstanding performance, including some very nice work on the keyboards.

    He knows that his fans pay hard-earned money to see him and he makes it worthwhile.

    When he is on stage, he is still a professional and quite a showman.

  • jr is one of those country acts i never got into. actually, the only reason i’m here is to say, RIP kitty wells.

  • He came to Milwaukee 30 odd years ago and spit on the audience, played 2 songs, and left the stage. I have no respect for that.

  • I agree with the whole “get your own house in order, first” comment. That burns my ass, whether it comes from the right or left. I’m pretty conservative, but I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. What I DO mind is a bunch of musicians telling me that I’m uneducated or ignorant for believing what I do. I usually stop listening to them, at that point. John Mellencamp and Green Day come to mind.

  • Among the problems with today’s country like the pop influence and the laundry list songs you talk about, I think one of the biggest problems with country music today is the lack of subtlty.

  • Here’s how you make a statement without being a jackass.

    Thank you Jackson Taylor!


    • Well, it’s a big step up from Hank Jr.’s recent efforts, but it’s not without its problems.

      For starters starting with the hate filled Jeremiah Wright saying “God Damn America” and then singing about “desecrating the graves of the ones who gave you your rights.” For the most part, the people who died in the service of giving black folks their rights were other black folks. For example, those 180,000 blacks didn’t join the Union Army just to preserve the Union.

      Then there’s the clip of Obama saying Islam is part of America. Is Jason trying to suggest that Obama is not a real American or Christian and maybe a closet Muslim? What is the context in which this statement was made. Could it be that the sentiment was similar to when Gearge W Bush said soon after 9/11 that Islam is a religion of peace when trying to address the incidences of violence against people who were thought to be Muslim?

      I’m with him all the way on the Westboro Baptist Church.

      • I think the Jeremiah Wright comments and then the lyrics about the graves and the flag are making the point that when you say you don’t like America, you can only say that cause you are here, in America (and there should be some level of respect always for that… J. Wright has no respect and is an ass).
        Many other countries, when you say something against the government you get tossed in jail or killed. The mention of soldiers graves and the flag are just symbols of America, which gives the right to talk against the gov. but again, there should be some level of respect, not just saying “God damn America”.

        I understand and I do agree with you on President Obama’s soundbite about Islam. (that is audio is not in the song on the album) I get upset when people are so quick to drop things in Pres. Obama’s lap. Jackson may have been better to have just showen an image of some of the corrupt politicians at that point in the song.

        I’m not sure why he has a clip of police in front of the U of Pittsburgh, when the lyric is “some ivy league school”. Pitt is not Ivy League.

        This is from Jackson’s “Let the Bad Times Roll” album and there is another song “Old Henry Rifle” that is political and I think done well.

        Political songs will never be perfect, and videos are sure to cause more imperfection. But the song, I think, is delivered well.

        • I really, really don’t want to defend Mr. Wright, but I could see how he might say that the reason he’s in this country is because his people were brought here in chains, then kept in bondage for a quarter millenium, and then disenfranchised for another century. I just don’t think the “you should be thankful you’re even here” notion works very well if you’re talking about African Americans. It does resonate more with me if we’re talking about foreign born people who made the choice to come to this country.

          • I know you’re not defending him, but at the same time, I never said he should be thankful to be here. How some groups got here isn’t always our best hour, but the fact is, he is living here, and America does allow him to have the opinion he has, which in other countries (some in Africa for example) will kill you if you speak out like he does.

            So I get his agnst as an African American. However, he is free to leave anytime he wants (although the love it or leave argument is weak too, but…) there are plenty of African Americans who have done very well because they have put aside the anger from the past. Bill Cosby is one that speaks out a lot against blaming the past for your lack of success. It is a complicated issue, but Mr. Wright, imho, does nothing to resolve it.
            Does Jackson’s song??? No, not really, but he reminds us of the contridiction that some put themselves in when they slam America.

          • Good points.

      • Sorry, I meant Jackson, not Jason.

      • I agree it would have been a better video if he’d just stuck with Westboro just because I think the other stuff kind of muddies what they’re trying to say. The difference, and it’s an important one, is that Jackson Taylor is not just spouting rhetoric.

        I’m here and there on Jackson Taylor. I like a lot of his stuff, and I don’t like a lot of it, but at least I don’t think he panders the way Hank Jr. does.

  • i bought this album on a whim for $3 off amazon and i was shocked. I listened to the entire album (barely), then i removed it and threw it away. I was angry. I felt like Hank drove to my house, punched me in the face, took the $3 out of my wallet and kicked me as he lelt.. The whole time he was saying something about how lucky I was to even get the privilege of listening to this album. Just sickens me

  • I listened to a large part of this cd before reading this great review. I guess I got triggered by the memory of the infamous Obama-Hitler-quote, because I never really listened to Jr. I’ve known his music since I paid 50 cents for a vinyl45 of Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, but what I heard since never impressed me much. And these days I’d rather hear III. So I was curious, and he didn’t disappoint me. Not that this is a good cd, it’s a ridicilous monster, but i expected political statements, and here they were, and it went on and on and on. An overkill of bullshit, Jr.-style.
    I don’t mind some politics in music, in songwriting. I am a big Steve Earle fan, part of that was him speaking out on the death-penalty. And you don’t need to agree to like the music, but when politics start to take over, things get tricky, and that killed this album for me. As for Steve Earle, I think he’ll write political songs when he needs to write that song, that’s his job as a songwriter, and he is more folk-singer than country, like Todd Snider. Who by the way has stated that he doesn’t speak out his opinions because they are true, but because they rhyme.
    I saw Steve Earle last year, about the 10th time, and that show was 90% non-political, and I really liked that, but it wouldn’t be complete without some statement. Not shouting, like Jr. does, but well-argumented. Jr. has lost all sense of perspective, it seems. However, it triggers me to listen more to all the good stuff he’s done.
    I saw III a couple of weeks ago, not one word politics, and one of the best concerts I have ever witnessed.

  • So Ray Willie Hubbard’s “…burning yonder with the Fox new whores…” is not radical but Hank’s republican leaning album is… Interesting.

    • Is that line “radical”? Not by a long stretch. Is it political? Of course it is, and honestly, I think it diminishes from an otherwise good song. But that is one line in one song on an entire album, where Jr. has an album where the majority of songs and the majority of lines have a political bent. And for the record, I never personally called any of Jr.’s opinions “radical”, never said they were wrong or right, or that I disagree with all of them necessarily. I think they’re pretty common honestly, and would fight for his right to make them. But in my opinion, they distract from his music.

      • Fair enough. I appreciate your honesty.

      • I like it , I bought it and I would like to hear your songs. If you have any !

  • People I used to respect that I’m rapidly losing respect for: Hank Williams Jr, and Shooter Jennings. Sons, you ain’t doin’ your Daddies proud!

  • i’ll fight you, then. I’m old enough
    to remember that all hank jr did
    in the 70s and 80s was dickride
    waylon and DAC.

    s’there, motherfucker.

  • I’m really tired of the criticism of Hank’s personal life. So he likes to have fun and that pisses some people off. Who gives a shit? This album was great, I absolutely loved it. Why are you on Hank’s ass about using the word “bitch”? That’s a really weak attempt at making him out to be some kind of misogynistic asshole. I think you had your mind made up about this album before you even listened to it.

  • I think my compute hates your site. I searched for this album by name and only just found this article because you posted the link for me. I was wondering about Hank Jr.’s new album but was hesitant to purchase it given that most aging artists are past their prime. The fact that it’s apparently all political propaganda has more or less completely ruled out a purchase or even a listen for me at this point. The fact that he’s apparently cutting self-promoting songs now is even more of a turn off (and part of the reason David Allan Coe gets on my nerves as well).

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