When it comes to country music, the name Hank Williams is synonymous with it. Hank Williams is one of the forefathers and legends who built the genre. He was an irreplaceable icon whose impact shaped the genre and influenced it more than anyone could fathom. His son, Hank Williams Jr., has made an impact of his own. It’s not an easy task following your iconic father, but Hank Jr. has made his own name. For decades he has made music that’s captured the hearts and attentions of music fans across the world. While he started out making neo-traditional country like his father, Williams is best known for his mixing of traditional country, blues and southern rock. He’s been off the radar a little bit in the music world in recent years, but has re-emerged to the forefront after signing a deal with the label NASH Icon. His first album under the label is set to be released in January and the lead single is a familiar tune to many fans. Williams has redone the classic “Are You Ready For The Country,” penned by Neil Young and made famous by Waylon Jennings.
Right away you can hear fiddles and drums as this song plays in. So it’s nice to know Hank kept the song decidedly country sounding. As far as what this song is about, critics and fans have argued over it for years. It’s simply one of those songs where you the listener have to determine what it means to you. This could be interpreted as an upbeat song about being country. Or maybe it’s about pride for one’s country. As I said it’s up to you. Williams himself still sounds pretty good vocally, really not showing any signs of wear at all. Williams is joined on the song by Eric Church, as the two opened this year’s CMA Awards by performing it. Church sounds pretty good himself and fits well alongside Williams. I don’t think Williams could have chosen someone better in terms of mainstream country artists to perform alongside him on this song. The instrumentation and production are certainly interesting though. While the early parts of the song are good, it gets more overboard as the song progresses. The backing chorus that comes in is unnecessary and drowns the song out. The drums are also too loud. I would have liked to have heard more of the pedal steel and fiddles.
Overall this isn’t a bad song nor is it a good song. It’s one of those songs that just exists and you really have no opinion of it. The best things you can say about the song is at least it’s country and it’s not offensive. As I said about the vocal performances, I think they’re good and get the job done. But nothing is really done to elevate this song and re-invent it, which maybe you really can’t do to a song like this one. It’s currently at #58 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and it has chance to go higher, as Church’s inclusion on it will entice some radio programmers to give it a spin. So far though NASH Icon hasn’t made much of an impact on country radio as it promised initially. I’ll be curious to see what Hank brings to the table on his new album come January. In the mean time, I would only recommend “Are You Ready For The Country” for the biggest fans of Williams and Church. Otherwise it’s pretty forgettable.
(By the way, the lyric video doesn’t fit with the song at all. Not sure what they were going for here…)