If there’s one consistent thing in this world, it’s that Hank Williams Jr. is going to tell it to us straight.
If he’s not the most blunt, cut and dry personality in the industry, then he’s damn close. And in a 2015 interview for an Audience Network special that aired in January of 2016, Hank opened up about the backstory for “A Country Boy Can Survive.”
Released in January of 1982, the song is arguably the most iconic and impactful of Hank’s portfolio of hits, even though it only reached the number two spot on the Billboard chart.
In his interview with Barbara, Hank pointed out how momentous and rare it is to pen an “American Anthem,” in essence a song that becomes part of the unforgettable foundation of country hits, and something he feels he’s been able to capture more than once in his career:
“It is wonderful to have an American anthem. Daddy had several of ’em, I’m lucky I’ve had a couple of ’em. That’s definitely on of ’em, an American anthem… ‘A Country Boy Can Survive.'”
He went on to share that the song was written “about 20 miles” from where they were sitting for the interview, out on Kentucky Lake:
“It was so easy – it’s what I do! I was over here at a guy’s house, wrote it at about one or two in the morning out on Kentucky Lake… that’s how we do it folks!”
He went on to largely discredit the nature of songwriting processes that occur in mainstream Nashville these days, the ones which feature scheduled times with writers who sit around share ideas.
For Bocephus, this was just never part of the method. Instead, he shared with Barbara that his writing hinged on personal experiences and ideas that struck a chord with him.
“I don’t go to writing sessions at 2 o’clock with five other people, no, no… what? A writing session? You gotta be sh*ttin’ me.
Oh, y’all are just gonna get together and write? I don’t think so…
That ain’t how I do it. I set up in the deer stand or on a boat in Florida… ‘whoa wait, I better write that down.'”
He sings a little piece of the introduction to “Just Call Me Hank” and chuckles again:
“I am a Williams you know, that’s how we do it.”
Ol’ Bocephus… even though he has a “Jr.” in his name, he’s still a one of a kind.
Cue it up:
“Country Boy Can Survive”