Straight to Hell
October 8, 2007 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a hard time relating to popular country music? Hank III is doing his best to play country music the way he thinks it should be. Not everyone likes him, but he drives some folks wild.

Some youtube links to live shows NSFW

Straight to Hell

One Horse Town
posted by nola (48 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
With his pedigree, I guess he can play how he wants.
posted by meh at 1:00 PM on October 8, 2007

Mood: post-y
Listening to: Hank III.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:00 PM on October 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

The NPR show, "Day to Day," had a great interview with him back in early 2006. He gets pretty freaky.
posted by NoMich at 1:13 PM on October 8, 2007

I read his name as Hank Ill and thought what a great name for a country artist.
posted by sveskemus at 1:15 PM on October 8, 2007

That's Hank ILL
posted by sveskemus at 1:16 PM on October 8, 2007

Listening to it now, really good thanks.
posted by nola at 1:18 PM on October 8, 2007

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain’t too many things these ole boys can’t do
We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
posted by vronsky at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2007

Hank Williams, Jr. is better than Hank Williams. There I said it and its out there and I am glad. Whew. It feels good to get that off my chest.
posted by ND¢ at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2007

No shame in that ND¢. Junior wrote some fantastic songs. "Family Tradition" comes immediately to mind.
posted by NoMich at 1:30 PM on October 8, 2007

Your cheatin' heart
will make you weep,
You'll cry and cry,
and try to sleep.
But sleep won't come,
the whole night through.
Are you ready
for some football?
posted by turaho at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hank the first is my favorite. I Saw the Light.
posted by MNDZ at 1:48 PM on October 8, 2007

ND¢, you must be smokin' some of III's weed.

Nola, didn't you just see him? The guy puts on a hell of a show.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:55 PM on October 8, 2007

I've got tickets to see him in November in Nashville. It's a trifecta, Rev. Hortin Heat , Nashville Pussy, and Hank III. I'm looking forward to it. I'd say come on down and hang out, but I know that's a bit of a drive for you.
posted by nola at 2:06 PM on October 8, 2007

Apart from Johnny Cash, Hank III is about the only country I can listen to.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:09 PM on October 8, 2007

ND¢, you must be smokin' some of III's weed.

Jr. could smoke III under the table. I have been very unimpressed with III. He seems to be trying too hard to be something that his audience wants him to be. Jr. just don't give a shit (thereby leading to some abysmal questions set to music regarding football and one's readiness in regard thereto) but also to greatness.
posted by ND¢ at 2:14 PM on October 8, 2007

Not bad Nola, you can def. hear the family tradition in his songs, but this guy can sing you every song Hank Williams ever wrote (and was the first concert I ever went to)
posted by vronsky at 2:21 PM on October 8, 2007

Well I've no doubt of Jr. bonafides but as for III trying to hard, I don't know. I think you could do worse with what's on the radio. I can't even listen to the stuff, and believe I get to hear it all day on the job. At least he is trying to get back to country's ruts and at the same time making something new. But what do I know I'm just a young pup ;)
posted by nola at 2:22 PM on October 8, 2007

Oh I like some David Alen Coe vronsky, and Longhaird Redneck has to be one of his best.
posted by nola at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2007

I went to school w/ Shelton, errrr, Hank, and hung out w/ some of the same people..Other than the tricked-out, jacked up 4x4 chevy truck w/ "Hank III" on the license plate that he drove, he was pretty nondescript. Everybody knew who he was, but he kept a pretty low profile. I remember Tie-dyes...lots and lots of tie-dyes.

Glad to see he's keeping it real. Only time i ever saw him play anything was in high school when Jr. brought him onstage to play drums for part of a set.
posted by rhythim at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2007

Shit man, Nashville's only a couple hours drive, and I've gone much further to see much worse.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:29 PM on October 8, 2007

Hank Williams, Jr. is better than Hank Williams.

Grandpappy would kick both of their behinds from pillar to post.
posted by blucevalo at 2:35 PM on October 8, 2007

Hank III is alright. He isn't nearly as cutting edge or revolutionary as he thinks he is. The Reverend has been doing it a lot longer and a lot better than Hank III. And there is a lot of merit to the argument that the attention he gets is significantly tied to his name. Joe Blow III doesn't get the attention he does.

The more interesting story here--and the better post--is the vibrancy of the music these days that is shoved under the label of "country music" despite having almost no identifiable country characteristics. It's becoming so much so that one has to wonder what classifies music as "country." You have the Rev. Horton Heat psychobilly/punk type that Hank III aspires to when he isn't doing classic country tunes. You have bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed and Reckless Kelly which sound much more like modern rock bands than anything than one would call "country." Then you have that label "alternative country" which encompasses everything from a band like Uncle Tupelo/Wilco to Steve Earle to (one of my personal favorites) a guy like Hayes Carll. I'm not sure what musical thread is common to all of them (other than being awesome). "Country" as a label has also annexed "folk" music. The brilliant Todd Snider always refers to himself as a "folk" artist, but you will find him in the "country" section; same with a Mainer who yodels like Slaid Cleaves and the poet laureate of New Hampshire, Bill Morrisey. Blues is also tossed under the country label, and you can see a guy like Ray Wylie Hubbard channeling Lightnin' Hopkins and being called country. And mainstream top 40 country--don't get me started--is virtually indistinguishable from pop music with the possible exception of the substance of the lyrics.

Hank III is called a country artist because of his name and where he plays. And, sometimes, he sings what can be a virtual mimic of his grandfather. But a lot of the time, he is as much of a "country" artist as a band like The Alarm.

Thanks for letting me share.
posted by dios at 2:39 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hank Williams, Jr. is better than Hank Williams. There I said it and its out there and I am glad.

I'm glad you said it too... now I have a great "You'll never believe what I saw on MeFi" story to tell.

One of the best, highest-energy shows I've ever seen... three sets, the first all Hank Sr.-influenced country, the 3rd, insane thrash metal... and the set in between? A hybrid of the other two styles. No shit, it was great. Even his band alone (especially the bassist and the steel player) are worth the ticket price.
posted by Rykey at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2007

Okay, upon reflection, maybe "better" was not the right choice of words. If you were out drinking, who would you rather hear on the jukebox? Who would you have more fun singing along to? Who makes you laugh more? Who would you rather have blaring out of your speakers as you drive down a country road with the windows down? The answer to all of those for me is Jr.
posted by ND¢ at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2007

Hank III is alright. He isn't nearly as cutting edge or revolutionary as he thinks he is.

I don't think he even has to try very hard at this point to be revolutionary. I'm well aware of those that have been plowing this ground long before he started playing bars and juke joints, Wayne Hancock, and Rev. Heat ,Kim Lenz, Evan Johns, and bands like Southern Culture On the Skids have been cranking out honest to goodness rockabilly for a hell of a lot longer. But I do see him as a conduite of a style of music that speaks to me, whatever the hell I am.
posted by nola at 2:55 PM on October 8, 2007

Honestly ND¢ ? Any of the three of them.
posted by nola at 2:58 PM on October 8, 2007

Its not even close.
posted by ND¢ at 3:02 PM on October 8, 2007

Pshew - I was a bit worried that linking a David Allan Coe video on metafilter might cause a total protonic reversal and make the universe implode. Everything seems fine though. Carry on.
posted by vronsky at 3:05 PM on October 8, 2007

Here is a Jr. concert from 1986. Kick ass.
posted by ND¢ at 3:09 PM on October 8, 2007

To be fair to you nola, you seem to be comparing III to this, so yeah he wins hands down, but I get all of my country music from here, which is a lot higher of a bar.
posted by ND¢ at 3:18 PM on October 8, 2007

I understand nola's point intrinsically. Dios is also saying the same thing, just differently.

"Country" is no longer country. But, it hasn't been for a long time. Nola's right in saying that right now Hank III doesn't have to do very much at all to be revolutionary.

I am coming up with this off the top of my head, and I need to refine it some, but I think some of what went "wrong" with country is that two genres we USED to have called "Southern Rock" and "Adult Contemporary" pretty much evaporated.

Good ole' boys like a good crying-in-your-beer song as much as anyone, but they like to raise a little hell too. That's what ND¢ is getting at.

And lots of girls want to listen to something else besides indie rock and very heavy R&B, which are your ONLY CHOICES in commercial radio right now.

So, "country" got rocky on one side, got smooth on another side, and crept into the Southern Rock and Adult Contemporary audiences.

Remember all that talk back in the 90's about how country was the single most popular genre of all music?

It's not that more people started listening to what we all know is country. Country just significantly expanded its borders.

I mean, any genre which has room for Hank III, Big N Rich, Sara Evans, Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, and Rascall Flatts under one umbrella is one giant genre.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:20 PM on October 8, 2007

Vronsky--I was thinking the exact same thing. Dare I mention...?
posted by wafaa at 3:25 PM on October 8, 2007

back somewhere around five years ago, i was working in the gigantor used bookstore/record shop across the street from the NorShor Theatre, where Hank III was gonna play that night. either he or one of his bandmates complimented me on the Handsome Family and Gram Parsons covers i was playing, which gave me pleasure. (my music taste was praised! my music taste was praised!)

then i went to the show after work. fucking awesome. especially when he turned all death metal at the end--which given the NorShor's extraordinarily eclectic population at the time, was greatly appreciated. (doesn't look like he still does that black hoodie transformation anymore--pandering to his audience, i guess. twas a leap that we as observers didn't think would pay off long-term.)

i hate what they now call country music. i heart Hank III.
posted by RedEmma at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2007

I'm enjoying this a lot (and I ain't about to get into any pissing matches about which Hank can kick which Hank's ass). Thanks for the post, nola!
posted by languagehat at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2007

I think it was Jello Biafra who claimed that Hank Jr was a disgrace not only to his father but also to his son.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:23 PM on October 8, 2007

Thanks for this, nola. For whatever reason, I've never paid any attention to Hank the Third, but I look forward to checking him out.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:44 PM on October 8, 2007

Wouldn't a REAL Hank 3 fan have made the tagline "Let's put the dick back in dixie and the cunt back in country"?

Seriously, though, much love. Great post. Fuck Nashville, and lets have more people fuse metal and country in their live act.
posted by absalom at 5:52 PM on October 8, 2007

hank iii would probably agree that hank jr. is a disgrace to the family. i had the occasion to interview him once, and he referred to hank jr. by his nickname 'bocephus,' and not very kindly. said he hated when daddy trotted him out to play the drums. he also very specifically stated that the country music is a way to pay the bills. (he was in court on a child support issue, and the judge asked him what he did for a living. he said he played in a punk band. 'you make any money doing that?' the judge asked. 'about $40 a week,' iii answered. the judge then told him he better get a job making more money because he was going to have to pay a lot more in child support than that.) he credits wayne the train hancock with telling him that he didn't have to sing anything he didn't want to, that he could play music he liked. (wayne had his own musical legend's footsteps to follow in, and wayne's music is pretty different from his father butch's.)

i also told hank he was going to totally blow out his voice if he kept singing with assjack, and his response was something like, 'ma'am, that's what i love to do. if i blow out my voice, then i blow out my voice.'

regardless of what you think of his singing, he's got the coolest boots this side of the rio grande--held together with silver duct tape & each one has a hole in the bottom.
posted by msconduct at 5:53 PM on October 8, 2007

Checked out some various Hank III on the toobs. On the plus side, the man gets points for having acoustic bass in his band, as well as pedal steel and fiddle. Course, a lot of folks are doing that these days. Looks like he'd be a heap of fun to hear live: plenty of energy, kicking band and all that. He comes off as an honest, unpretentious fellow who's pretty likeable.

I gotta say, though, I don't get a whole lot from the guy's voice. Pretty unremarkable, IMO. And I guess it's cathartic for his audience to hear lots of fuck and I'm gonna get fucked up and let's all get wasted from the stage, but it's a shtick that gets tired pretty fast for me. And shitkicking songs that are all about what a badass shitkicker the singer is are just a little too easy. What I mean is, based on what I've heard so far, as a lyricist and songwriter the guy's a bit of a one-trick pony. But, hey, maybe his albums are full of other songs about other topics beyond drugs and booze and bein' a country badass. Maybe someone here who's intimately familiar with the man's catalog can shed some light on that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2007

I saw Hank III and his band perform live several years ago. The first set was a note-perfect impersonation of his grandfather; the 2nd set was hardcore punk; both sets were wonderful. What I found interesting was the subset of his fan demographic made up of older (50-ish and up) women who seemed to be there precisely to experience and swoon over the ghost of granddad. It was a little eerie, kind of a fetish thing.
posted by egret at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2007

Two hours a day then play "Highway 16" On XM at werk. I want to kill myself, because my cow orkers think that this is what country music is all about. I pleaded to play the classic country station one day, and almost got lynched.
I've tried to sell several of them on the old stuff, and convince them that there is much better newer stuff. My pleas fall on deaf ears, I scream out "Listen to Johnny Cash and not Kenny Chesney", or "Check out Buck 65, he has been mixing country and hip hop far longer and far better then 'Cowboy troy' or big and rich" and then they sing along to Toby Keith for the Nth time that week, and the small part of my soul that holds out that some people just need to be exposed to good music to understand what they are missing, dies.
I hold equal contempt for top 40 as I do that "Modern Country" drek they play.
posted by JonnyRotten at 7:23 PM on October 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, my wife laughed at me the first time I told her that Rockabilly was a real genre of music.
posted by JonnyRotten at 7:24 PM on October 8, 2007

I had the same experience, egret. At the end of the first set he announced something like, "All a y'all who was here for the country music should know this next set with Assjack is gonna be that screamin' devil music so unless y'all wanna hear that, y'all should leave now. Thanks for coming out."

And twenty percent of the crowd finished their scotches, stubbed out their Salems, picked up their sweaters and purses, and headed for the door. It was weird.

Live he's great fun. On record, not so much. One-trick pony, as flapjax suggests. But a helluva performer.

And I did not know Wayne "The Train" Hancock was son of Butch. I is ignernt. Thunderstorms and Neon Signs is a great record.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:08 PM on October 8, 2007

Jonnyrotten, I don't know whether "cow orkers" was an intentional typo or not, but I modded you up anyways.
posted by spoobnooble at 8:17 PM on October 8, 2007

JonnyRotten & Flapjax agreeded, The Carter Family, Ralph Stanley, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Monroe Brothers all you get is a huh? Books & all sounds the same, one size fits all.
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2007

Oh hank III, you drink your whiskey out of that glass, and if that ain't country, I can kiss your ass.

He has his moments, but he's not the best songwriter. And that's one of the ones that bothers to rhyme. I sure did like Assjack when I saw him, though.
posted by smartyboots at 10:58 PM on October 8, 2007

Yeah, the old days were a lot better, so much more authentic and real. Back then, the musicians really cared about the music and, of course, they weren't that different from the people they were writing about. But today, even though the genre is exponentially more popular, all you hear is radio-friendly pap created by multi-millionaires who knowingly project an image of manufactured authenticity to endear them to the low-income fanbase they have almost nothing in common with. There are a few true believers out there, those who try to re-create the sounds of the good old days, and a few people who try to update the genre in interesting ways. But unfortunately, though their fans are vocal, they've been unsuccessful in swaying most fans of the genre, who are only interested in the shamelessly derivative music played on the popular music stations.

Oh, wait...sorry, you guys. I thought we were talking about hip-hop.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2007

We're not talking about hip-hop until you think of your favorite hip-hop band and make a post linking to a couple of their videos.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2007

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