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Hank Jr. finds his roots

By Jeffrey B. Remz, February 2002

Page 2...

"I was talking to a musician about that this morning. He said, 'I've seen you in concert in those smoking shows in the '80's, and a lot of people wouldn't believe it's you picking on 'Tee Top,' but a lot of people know about your blues stuff.'"

"So, I play five string banjo on there, a dobro with a slide on there, a jug, regular guitar. It's about me. It's about my songs. My music, and what I'm wanting to do and maybe a little less of computers in the studio."

"I've done a lot of Southern and Northern boogie rock. Now I've got a few more songs that I'm working on."

"If anything, my voice is getting stronger and stronger and stronger as I get older," says Williams, 52.

Probably about the most unexpected part of the album is "The 'F' Word" where good friend Kid Rock sings backing vocals.

The Kid (Bob Ritchie) first went to see Williams in concert at the Pine Knob Music Center in Michigan when he was 13.

"My daughter said, 'you better grab this Rolling Stone. This guy is crazy about you.' I said, 'Who is this? What's that?' I read."

He quickly found out. The two shot a video together and have hung out hunting and doing a "Crossroads" television show as well that aired in February.

The song resulted from a visit from the Kid to Williams at his farm. They were comparing notes about differences between country and rock.

"We determined the main difference is that in country music, you just canŐt use the 'F' word," Williams wrote in the notes on the CD jacket.

Williams also gives advice to his son, fellow musician and rebel Hank Williams III, to "lose the F word" as well.

The chorus to the humorous song goes, "No no in country music you just can't say the F Word/Oh we've come a long way, but it's best if that one's not heard/oh we've had some hells and damns/But we donŐt say bitch, we say, why yes ma'am/'Cause in country music, you just don't use the F word."

Williams says, "We've all kinds of kinds of hells and damns in country. But we don't have that other. We' haven't progressed that far yet or degenerated. Who knows?"

"There are a few that are trying it. It's true. Some of these guys say it 500 times. I said (to Kid Rock), 'how many times do you say it on an album - 500 times? He just has that little grin."

Hank Sr. has been part and parcel of his son's musical life. Jr.'s first forays into music were singing and recording his father's songs. He has continued to keep the mantle alive for decades.

Growing up in Nashville, Hank debuted at eight and made his Opry debut three years later.

His mother Audrey was behind his career, which resulted in his first recording at 14 on his father's label, MGM.

The father-son connection was quite obvious with Hank Jr. recording as Luke the Drifter Jr. and album like "Songs My Father Left Me," The Legend of Hank WIlliams in Story and Song" and a duets album with his father.

But on "Almeria Club," he does something a bit different. He recorded the "If the Good Lord's Willin' (And the Creeks Don't Rise)" with words by father and music by the son.

"I've had that since I was small," says Hank Jr. of the lyrics. "I have some personal items. I've had these things for a long long long time. Just written down on pieces of paper."

The title was Hank Sr.'s motto at his shows.

Writing the music was not hard, according to Williams. "It's kind of a '40's big band, early early country (sound)," he says, adding that the writing took "5 minutes, 10 minutes on the bus. Right outside that Almeria...I have a little talent for that. You work fast on your word processer, and I can work pretty fast."

"It just came to me, bang. It's got to be good. Gosh it's swing. It's (got a) melody. It's great. It was very easy. There were a lot of big smiles down there. There wasn't a lot of apprehension about anything. It was a breath of fresh air."

Don't expect more collaborations between father and son. "Not a bunch," says Williams when asked if he has more lyrics from his father without being specific. "Let's say I've got some. You're talking about a man who was pretty prolific and dies at 29 and had that many good songs."

"I seriously doubt there will be any workable (songs)," says Williams. "I'm not sure. The right time came. There is a smattering of lines here and there, just like we all do. (With some lyrics, Williams says) This idea is no good and put a big cross through it and start something else. This one is where it should be."

While about five songs were recorded at Almeria, another batch was done at the Louisiana Hayride Stage in Shreveport, La. in May 2001. That was the same venue where Hank Sr. played for almost a year until the Grand Ole Opry came calling in 1949.

"Cross on the Highway" was recorded in Kansas City, Kan. at the Greater Pentecostal Temple as a tribute to his friend the late Kansas City Chiefs football star Derrick Thomas, killed as a result of a car crash just over two years ago.

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