Blue-blood Boil

Hank Williams III does his own thing. Nashville, beware.

And while Yoakam never hesitated to fire acid barbs at the Nashville hierarchy and its never-ending efforts to gentrify and polish country into pop, he did so from a fairly safe distance.

Williams attacks the powers that be not only from inside the walls of Nashville, but he does so with the name and genetic lineage of a man who was arguably the greatest singer-songwriter in the history of country music.

Wayne Hancock is not only a friend of Hank 3. He also let Williams record some of his songs, three of which appear on Hank's earlier record, Risin' Outlaw.

"That ain't the stuff, man": The rockin', thrashin' Hank Williams III steers away from Nashville tradition.
"That ain't the stuff, man": The rockin', thrashin' Hank Williams III steers away from Nashville tradition.
My daddy did a video with Kid Rock: Hank 3 sports tattoos, too.
My daddy did a video with Kid Rock: Hank 3 sports tattoos, too.

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"He's a really great guy, and everything you ever heard about him being an asshole – he's not," says Hancock. "He's very shy, down-to-earth. Matter of fact, the reason I let that guy do my songs is 'cause he's the only sonuvabitch I ever liked. And he can sing. He can't sing like me, thank goodness, but he can sing."

On Williams' relationship with Nashville, Hancock chortles.

"When I put Fuck Nashville' on my tee shirts, I didn't live in Nashville! It takes some balls."

Which would mean exactly nothing if Williams wasn't such a talented artist and performer. The songs on Lovesick, Broke & Driftin'are real, uncompromised and raw, just like his dad and granddad before him.

Williams wrote all but one of the tunes, and they range from sad and lonesome, like Hank 1 at his best, to high-gear hillbilly honky-tonk. Williams' voice is whiny as a hound dog, and his mood can shift from broke and low-down to mean as a razor-fanged rattlesnake.

"I'm not gonna be able to yodel like this for very long, though," he says. "It's the Robert Plant syndrome. I can't be this squeaky and nasal forever."

Williams doesn't much cross from metal to mournful – he keeps his genres pretty well isolated – but tracks such as "Nighttime Ramblin' Man" are as fast as a Japanese bullet train, while the one cover, a version of Bruce Springsteen's 1982 folk gem "Atlantic City," disappears midtrack to be overtaken by a remix of a song that appears earlier on the record, "Walkin' With Sorrow," a yodel-driven tune.

Besides touring with his band, Assjack, Williams also takes a little time each year to play bass in a handful of sets with Superjoint Ritual, an on-again/off-again metal band fronted by Phillip Anselmo of Pantera.

"I got into this because a judge thought I was a deadbeat dad, and he told me I had no future as a musician. I wanted to prove him wrong," says Williams. The story has it that Williams was obligated to pay child support for the consequence of a one-night stand, considerably after the fact.

"I'll tell you a story about when I met Shelton, which says something about the guy," says Hancock. "When he and I first met, he was drivin' down the road, and I was rollin' a joint, and a lady ran a stop sign and broadsided us; the spliff went everywhere. Nobody got hurt, but the cops came over there pretty quick, and I was a bit out of it. Shelton, being the kind of guy he is, he says, Well, you know, Wayne, you don't have a name in this town like I do, and my daddy's got some money. He'll get me out of jail. Why don't you take a walk, and I'll deal with the law.'

"But I thought about it a minute, and I realized I couldn't think of anything better to do in Nashville than to spend a night in jail with Hank Williams the Third. So I stayed there and stuck it out with him, and it was cool. Nobody wound up in jail, but I'll never forget it, which is why that's one of my favorite stories.

"I don't think people really understand why [Williams] is not doing Hank Williams. Well shit, he ain't any of them guys. He's Shelton! You keep your money on him, man; he'll be around a long time."

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