A Night of Racism, Patriotism, and Homophobia with Hank Williams Jr.

Categories: Show Reviews

HankWilliamsJr.jpg
Amy McCarthy
Bocephus in all his conservative glory.

Driving up U.S. 75 toward Durant, part of me was excited about seeing Hank Williams Jr. live. I knew that he was an arch-conservative, a bit of a racist, and probably too old to be any good, but there is always something exhilarating about seeing and hearing songs from your childhood performed live.

There was also a naive part of me that thought he would just play the good old classics and stay away from his entirely terrible work from the last 15 or 20 years. Such hopes, however, proved more fantasy than reality.

Hank Williams Jr. was probably part of a lot of our childhoods. Even if you don't know much of Williams' other discography, "Are You Ready for Some Football?" is instantly recognizable by anyone who spent their Monday nights growing up watching the Cowboys play. The show opened with "All My Rowdy Friends," which was a very effective way to get the crowd going. And by going, I mean everyone, including the 60-year-old women in Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots, was the definition of rowdy. (And by rowdy, I mean "already drunk and starting to sweat.")

Everyone wants to be asked if they want to drink and party while they're holding cans of overpriced cans of casino beer, especially the crowd in Durant. Two guys in the upper deck saluted Hank with their Miller Lite cans throughout the entire show, which took real dedication. One bright young star in Sanuk slip-ons and a pink button-down wrapped himself in a Bocephus-branded Confederate flag despite the fact that it was too damn hot in that venue to be wrapped in anything made of nylon, much less the visual representation of Southern racism.

The next song, titled "Keep the Change," was a pointed middle-finger at President Obama and the "United Socialist States of America." In case you were wondering, Bocephus and everyone in that crowd at the Choctaw Events Center would like for the rest of America to know that they'll be keeping their guns, their V8 engines, and their "Christian names," and us freedom-hating liberals can keep the "change."

The middle of the two-hour set included a lot of muddy covers, like Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Three Steps," and the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See." "Kaw-Liga" was played in all its original racist glory, with a few even more cartoonish attempts at a war cry thrown in for good measure. The set really got troublesome, though, when Williams told a story of meeting a black man at his father's house.

"You know I love the black man, and he came to me and said, 'Yo' daddy got that song about jambalaya and the crawfish pie-a,'" Williams rambled in a god-awful, patronizing caricature of an African American man. "'Remember, country music is just white people singing the blues. You go get you a dobro and a lot of good things will happen for you, Little Bocephus.'" It wasn't entirely clear if he was a little drunk by this point, but it wouldn't haven't been surprising.

Not long after, and in solidarity with the rest of the Copenhagen-dipping crowd, Bocephus spat across the stage before starting "If the South Woulda Won." Everyone cheered at both his epic wad of chaw and at the idea that the world would have been a much better place if the Confederacy was still around. Scores of rebel flags, available for $20 at the merch table, waved in the air for much of the night, but there was no stronger showing than during this song.

If that wasn't enough, there was the homophobia too. The show didn't really start to go down that road until it was about two-thirds over, when Williams played "Dinosaur." "You're singin' a song about makin' love to your drummer/Well gay guitar-pickers don't turn me on," he sang at one point, that many people in the audience knew word for word. Even these most loyal fans were surprised to hear him holler out "Cocksuckers!" between the first two verses, but they cheered nonetheless.

The rabble-rousing and hate-filled sloganeering was made all the sadder in light of the show's more sensitive, if fleeting, glimpses. It is in covers of "Lovesick Blues" and "There's a Tear in My Beer," that you hear only a trace of Hank Williams Sr.'s legendary voice. Bocephus has always been a speak-singer, but especially so in his old age. Still, there were small hints of his daddy's soulful warbling that could make anyone realize that Hank Williams Jr. may not have had that iconic voice, but he definitely inherited some talent.

If that talent has ever truly struck a chord with me, it's in a song that my dad used to play, written in the aftermath of Williams Jr.'s battle with drugs and alcohol. When the opening notes of "The Blues Man" began to play, even I thrust my can of beer into the air with a "Hell yeah!" for emphasis. Disappointingly, his voice couldn't hold up to the higher notes of one of his best tracks, meaning that it was much more speaking to music than singing.

The few bright spots at this show, though, were reminders of the golden age of country music. When it was about good songwriting, not just a catchy jumble of Southern stereotypes like jacked-up trucks and chewing tobacco. If Williams paid as much attention to picking his guitar and singing as he does President Obama and the gays, he might well put on one a hell of a show.

Of course, the worst part about it all was that I only had low-point Okie beer to get me through the two-hour set. Talk about a grind.


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48 comments
psiloqk1
psiloqk1

Old Gezzer needs his a$$ whooped

That's why he lost that Good football money

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I'd rather see a Ratt reunion than this shite.....who goes to this type of show?   

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure!!!!!!!

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure!!!!


wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure!!!

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure!!

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure!

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure .

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

hey Amy, quit now because you are already a journalistic failure

wejohnsn
wejohnsn

Amy is a lying POS! I doubt this doubt this dumbroad was even at the show....

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

Could your dad be a fucking legend and your son be such a bad ass, yet you represent the worst that America has to offer?  How could the talent and resemblance skip a generation.

GRAYWOLF
GRAYWOLF

Sounds like someone with an agenda looking for something to fake outrage over and finding it where it doesn't exist...Standard procedure in her demographic!

flcaraway
flcaraway

Hank Jr is the best & puts on an amazing show!!  You know what you're getting before you go, so if it offends you.....keep your ass at home!!  All of us grew up with Bocephus & drinking & partying to his music, so if you don't wanna see the rebel flags, racism & rowdy ass crowd then keep you're conservative ass at home!!  Oklahoma beer sucks & everyone knows that, Hank Jr. is a rebel rocker, always has been always will be!! Stay home & listen to the CDs if you can't handle the party!!! BOCEPHUS Lover for life!!!!  Felicia Caraway






2good2BTrue
2good2BTrue

Ms McCarthy, I feel it necessary to point out that the song, "Kaw-Liga",
is not in reference to an actual Native American person but, rather, a wooden ("knottious pinus," to be exact) facsimile of a human being,
one native to the pre-industrial North American region of that era.


You see, during that time period, most North American settlers were not familiar with the term, "Native American", and would therefore refer to said persons as "Indians"... or more commonly "Injuns".


Was this grotesque?  Absolutely.  However, such crudality was due more to ignorace than malice or insensitivity so I think we can afford our beloved ancestors some "lee-way" in this regard <chuckle> <chuckle> .


But you are correct, Ms. McCarthy: Such racial-insensitive should not be tolerated today, even for the sake of nostalgia.


I have therefore written a very, very strongly worded letter to Mr. Williams, Jr. demanding a correction to said lyrics,
replacing all instances of "Indian" with "indigenous person of the Pre-Industrial North American Region of that era".


I have full confidence Mr. Williams, Jr. will comply henceforth on future events.


Please let me know if he doesn't, ok?

Woodzilla34
Woodzilla34

If u dont like Hank Williams u can kiss my ass

Woodzilla34
Woodzilla34

"If u dont like Hank Williams u can kisss my ass"

Tarso3
Tarso3

The problem with this article is that none of it is factual. I was there.


The concert was opened with the "South's Gonna Do it Again". The second song being the one Ms. McCarthy said the concert was opened with ("All My Rowdy Friends"). There is also no upper-deck, nor balcony, nor anything even similar. There is nothing racist about the song Kaw-liga. Kaw-liga is a song about a wooden Indian who's in love with a "Choctaw maiden over in the antique store".


If you knew anything about the musician who you heard often in your childhood (and if you were listening at the concert (which apparently you were not, as Hank. Jr. did not yell cocksuckers during the song "Dinosaur"), you'd know that Hank was talking and speaking like Fat Domino and wasn't impersonating a caricaturized black male.


I have been to 5 of his concerts and this one was probably one of the most enjoyable and most entertaining. 



2good2BTrue
2good2BTrue

Amy, I'm... stunned, absolutely just floored... that all that would happen at a Hank Williams, Jr. concert. 


Anyway, thank you for covering this event. 

We need more up-tight, elite, condescending,  self-righteous  people like you to go to events like these and expose that offensive phenomena we call, "redneck-ism".


Who knows?  With your help, maybe one day we can cure these poor misguided souls back into "progressivism"... cuz we all know *that's* the only way to be!!


Keep up the good work, Amy!!

DaveH911
DaveH911

Can't wait for a review of an Ozzy concert. You might be shocked by some occult references. 

lebowski300
lebowski300

Racism aside, what a foul turd of a talentless celebrity by birth.

maddskillz
maddskillz

i just love how the minds of a minority (in texas) get to spew their ways of thinking to the majority. stop making everything political observer.  

chbradshaw
chbradshaw

how exactly is Kaw Liga racist?   it's about a wooden Indian

rubberduky
rubberduky

Well Amy, sounds like your too good for us Redneck Amerkkkicans, so take your pasty white ass to some dave matthews and get fucked in the pie hole by a Bieber look a like boyfriend who drives a pussy car like a Prius. :)

mm32
mm32

Some of the best concerts I've ever attended, and some of the worst, were headlined by Randall Hank Williams.  He was my favorite performer in high school, and I had all his albums, up to the late 80s.  He could sing, and he could play every instrument on the stage.  When he was on, there were few better.  Though when he was drunk and didn't care, it was a tough watch.

And I think it's accepted truth that his best friend growing up was an elderly black man, Rufus Payne, who helped teach him to play the guitar, and sing the blues.  I don't think it's inherently racist that Hank Jr doesn't have an authentic African-American accent when he's trying to tell a story.

All that said, though, I can't stand him now.   I have little problem with him singing the songs listed above from 30 years ago (Dinosaur is a great song; so's Blues Man, and of course Kaw-Liga).  I still listen to those albums.  What I have a problem with is the over-the-top pandering to the idiots. The overtly racist comments that got him kicked off Monday Night Football - comparing Obama to Hitler, calling him a Muslim "who hates the US", etc. 

It makes me sad.  He used to be awesome.

war6763
war6763

"Everyone wants to be asked if they want to drink and party while they're holding cans of overpriced cans of casino beer" - Double Cans!

jay_cutcher
jay_cutcher

I fail to see anything he said that was racist.  People like you have completely discredited the "racist" term by overusing it.  Your overuse takes away from real instances of racism.  The irony is that you could be called the only racist at this show since you're the only one that has diminished true occurrences of racism.

suzierb
suzierb

Hank has always been the same way and never changed.  What kind of show did you expect?  This is a poor attempt to discredit a great singer/songwriter.  He's conservative and from the south.  He's proud of his heritage and not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right.  Liberals and democrats might not like his style. Maybe you should have stayed at home.  You clearly were in the wrong place.

JustSaying
JustSaying

I'm not quite sure why you would go to a Hank Williams, Jr show and expect him to be anything but Hank Williams, Jr.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@GRAYWOLF In one fell swoop, the author of the piece has labeled two Hanks, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Marty Robbins, Charley Pride, and everyone else that has covered Kaw Liga as a racist. Charley Pride is black and Marty Robbins mother was Native American. Screw them, though. The white hipster tells us what is racist and what isn't.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@flcaraway  


Dude, take a nap, and for shits sake.....don't drive!  BTW, you left yer sleeveless tshirt by the pool. 

qwert
qwert

@rubberduky  Hey u know dudes with a Prius get tons of pussy right? But like all the women have teeth and take showers and stuff. Oh and they don't have meth habits.  You probably wouldn't be in to that. Carry-on.. 

qwert
qwert

@rubberduky  Hey you spelled "Amerikkkans" wrong. Dumb ass redneck. I mean Redinnnfeck. <----- is that better? 

qwert
qwert

@mm32  Just say "nigger accent" and get it over with.. No one saying it's not music. It's music, racist, homophobic music. But music indeed. 

Super_Mike_Mann
Super_Mike_Mann

@jay_cutcher

Too right

To be fair though Amy checks under her bed for racists before she can go to sleep though. They're everywhere!

qwert
qwert

@JustSaying  Probably the same reason why you never finished High-school. 

rubberduky
rubberduky

Yeah her pansy ass has visions of three giant letter K's with arms and legs peering out of her closet at night.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@qwert ....says the rocket scientist that both hyphenated and capitalized high school.

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