It is true that three decades ago, Hank Williams Jr. did not do much settling down. It was 1981 when his single “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” soared to the top of Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. This moment was one of Hank Jr.’s most career-defining hits.
Hank Williams Jr., himself, penned and recorded “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)”. It was released in September 1981 by Elektra/Curb records as the first single from his album The Pressure Is On. The single was Hank Williams Jr.’s fifth number one on the country charts. The song stayed at number one for one week, spending a total of ten weeks on the country chart. Critics adored the album and his singles, leading Williams to an Academy of Country Music nomination for Top Male Vocalist. Moreover, this moment was a major commercial success for Williams. The album marked Williams’ sixth album to be certified Gold and his second to be certified Platinum.
The song finds Hank Williams, Jr. lamenting the fact that all of his longtime friends have started to get older and find their tracks in the world. This makes it hard for him to find someone to hang out and raise hell with. He can no longer enjoy drinking and the company of friends going on road trips and bars. Although acknowledging he, himself, has matured, he is unhappy that his one-time “rowdy” friends have settled down. His friends no longer want a part of their old lifestyle as they leave their happy-go-lucky ways.
Bocephus also included references to Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings in the lyrics. He mentions all the different things they were doing with their lives instead of partying with him. However, the chorus pitches his dad, Hank Williams Sr. He sings,
Yeah, I think I know what my father meant
When he sang about his lost highway and Johnny Cash
Don’t act like he did back in ’68
And Kriss, he is a movie star and he’s moved off to L.A.
And nobody wants to get drunk and get loud
All my rowdy friends have settled down.
The song became so closely special with Williams that he turned to its signature tune in subsequent songs including “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight”, “Born to Boogie”.
Stay tuned for our feature of those subsequent songs by visiting our website on Country Thang Daily.