Hot dang this is as good as it gets.
There’s a specific breed of country artist that has always strongly resonated with fans: The Outlaw.
Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, the list of artists that have been given the title can go on and on, but undoubtedly those artists represent the core ethos of country music.
Of course, not all artists immediately take to the title bestowed upon them, like Travis Tritt, but there’s unquestionably some romantic element to joining the ranks of the outlaws.
Perhaps no artist took to it as readily as Hank Williams Jr.
It helps that his father was the legendary Hank Williams, but instead of sitting on his laurels and enjoying a life of ease, he doubled down and became an absolute star of his own.
Known for songs like “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Family Tradition,” and “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” Bocephus truly had to earn acceptance in the country music community, and along the way he punched his card to becoming one of the best of all-time.
And who can forget his legendary Monday Night Football intro…
One of the best Hank Jr. moments was this iconic performance of a song inspired by those who paved the path he got to walk down.
The performance is from a TV special called The Door Is Always Open, a tribute to Sue Brewer who was a mentor to struggling songwriters in Nashville before she passed away in 1981. Brewer spent her later years answering fan mail for Waylon Jennings, who organized the April 1984 special.
Hank Jr., Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Jessi Colter, Roger Miller and Willie Nelson joined Waylon as they all got together for prime time TV, and while they were there, Bocephus decided to break out a now-iconic song inspired by some of the legends in the room with him.
“All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” was released as the first single from his 1981 album The Pressure Is On and has gone on to be one of his best known.
Referencing the like of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, he speaks of how they’ve all grown softer in their old age and can’t party like they used to (who can’t relate to that?).
But playing the song surrounded by the exact people who inspired it? And doing some killer impressions of the artists while singing about them? And throwing in a line about Willie not smoking as much as he once did?
Pure country gold.
Hank Williams Jr. sure is one of a kind.
Here’s to the outlaws of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.