My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Single Review: Hank Williams, Jr. – ‘Red, White & Pink Slip Blues’

Artwork for Hank Williams, Jr's new single "Red, White & Pink Slip Blues"

Artwork for Hank Williams, Jr's new single "Red, White & Pink Slip Blues"

Here at My Kind of Country we tend to discuss music that we enjoy, which is why very negative single and album reviews are rare here.  I’ve never been a huge Hank Williams, Jr. fan; he’s made some music that I’ve really liked as well as some I just couldn’t stand.  I’ve never bought any of his albums.   And I think we’ve all become a little jaded over the past several years from the string of often mediocre patriotic songs and songs like “Shutting Detroit Down” that seem to pander to country music’s perceived conservative fan base.   For those reasons, I was apprehensive when J.R. asked me to review the new Bocephus single, “Red, White & Pink Slip Blues.”   I hadn’t heard the song yet and really wasn’t sure what to expect but I didn’t have high hopes that I would really like it very much.

Now that I’ve actually heard the song, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I quite like it.  It’s easily the strongest single Hank Jr. has released in years.  The heavily blues-influenced production complements his strong vocal performance and helps to convey the feelings of desperation that the protagonist is feeling in the aftermath of losing his factory job.   The pain is apparent when he sings, “I paid my bills, I paid my dues, I paid my share of taxes too.  Now I can’t even buy my baby shoes.”  The song ends with the background singers asking, “Is anybody listenin’?” and Bocephus saying, “Politicians, we’re talkin’ to you.”   But to the credit of  Mark Stephen Jones and Bud Tower, who wrote the song, it avoids self-pity and perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t try to assess blame on another group of people.  The protagonist is venting, and expressing feelings of frustration that too many people are feeling these days.

It’s a pity that song is unlikely to get much attention from country radio, because it’s the perfect antidote to the mindlessly positive fluff that is permeating the airwaves there.

And now, having dutifully completed this review, I’m off to buy some Bocephus music for the very first time.

Grade: A

“Red, White & Pink Slip Blues” is available as a digital download from iTunes and Amazon.

6 responses to “Single Review: Hank Williams, Jr. – ‘Red, White & Pink Slip Blues’

  1. Michael April 24, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Good luck with your search. Hank Jr. has always been hit or miss for me too. I’m not sure if you’re shopping only for singles, but I’ve never been able to find an acceptable compilation that includes all of the hits I want.

  2. Leeann Ward April 24, 2009 at 2:37 am

    Apparently, we agree here. As you may have already seen in my review, I was less than excited when Kevin assigned Hank’s song to me as well. And like you, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

    I’ve never been much of a Hank Jr. fan either. I’ve only liked songs here and there from him. I own a GH collection, which has always been good enough for me.

    • Razor X April 24, 2009 at 9:05 am

      I saw that you had reviewed it but didn’t want to read it until after I’d done mine, but I see that we are pretty much on the same page with this. Going into this, I really didn’t expect that I’d be giving this song an A.

  3. Occasional Hope April 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

    Hank Jr was nearly always too rock for me, although there are some songs of his that are great.

    • Razor X April 24, 2009 at 9:06 am

      He was always too rock for me as well. There are really only a handful of songs that I really like, like “Family Tradtition”, “A Country Boy Can Survive”, and “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down.”

  4. J.R. Journey April 24, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I’ve always been a big fan of Hank Williams Jr. And while he’s released a lot of rock-sounding songs over the years, especially to radio, he has also recorded some stone country songs along the way too. You just have to dig deeper than his big hits to find them – and if you’re not interested in the hits you’ve heard on the radio, it doesn’t make much sense to seek out more. But for Hank Jr., the search is definitely worth it.

    This particular song is his best new release in the past decade in my opinion – though I liked ‘Devil In A Bottle’ a lot too. I think he’s recorded the anthem for the times, but since John Rich beat him to it, I don’t foresee much airplay for this one, which is a shame.

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