October 25

The Estranged Williams and His Family Tradition

Live Performance in 1982

Hank Williams Jr., son of renowned Hank Williams, composed and wrote “Family Tradition”. The said song, which soared at the number one spot, was released in May 1979 as the fourth and final single and title track from his album “Family Tradition”. As of April 2016, his album has sold 909,000 digital copies.

The song was about Williams’ statement of rebellion, not only in his lifestyle and living out the lyrics of his songs, but also of his musical identity and direction. The words tell Williams’ unreformed wish to fake his own style. This was his response to those who criticized him for changing from countrypolitan to southern rock blended with honky tonk. To add, the younger Williams also explained that the hard-living lifestyle is a “family tradition”. This is referring to the alcohol and drug use that was linked to his personal life.

When played in concert and at parties or sung at karaoke, “Family Tradition” frequently becomes a call and response song during the chorus.

Why do you drink?”


“And why do you roll smokes?”


“Why must you live out/the songs that you wrote?”



Covering his father’s songs and mimicking his father’s style, son Hank began his career through the shadows of his father. Williams’ own style slowly changed as he worked hard to find his own voice and place within the industry of country music. On August 8, 1975, his rise was interrupted. He got nearly killed from a fatal fall off the side of Ajax Peak in Montana. After an extended recovery, he challenged the country music scene with a mix of country, rock, and blues. Williams enjoyed much success in the 1980s, from which he earned significant recognition and popularity both in and out the world of country music.

Williams Jr. made it clear that his musical style is totally different from the blues-oriented honky-tonk well-liked during his father’s era. Having made his music differently, Young Hank cannot deny how proud he is. Moreover, being part of his father’s musical legacy is truly an honor.


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