Hank Williams, Jr. – “A Country Boy Can Survive”

“A Country Boy Can Survive” is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Hank Williams Jr. The song was released as a single in January 1982 and reached a peak of number 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts in March 1982. It is considered one of Williams’ signature songs even though it never reached number one.

Shortly after 9/11, Williams re-wrote and re-recorded the song with a patriotic theme under the name “America Will Survive”; the rewrite peaked at number 45 on the Billboard country charts.

In early 2007, Williams re-released the original version to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its original release, in addition to creating a

music video for it. This re-release peaked at number 45 on the Billboard country charts.

This song was released in January 1982. It reflects changes to American lifestyle and society that corresponded with rural concerns of the negative impact from increasing urbanization, and exalts the self-reliance of ‘country boys’.

The second verse mentions the narrator’s relationship with a New York City businessman; despite their differing backgrounds (urban vs. rural) the two had become good friends and exchanged gifts (“he’d send me pictures of the Broadway nights/And I’d send him some homemade wine”). The businessman is “killed by a man with a switchblade knife/for $43 my friend lost his life”; Williams replies that he would like to personally shoot the mugger himself, but not before “(spitting) Beech-Nut in that dude’s eyes”. (The “America Will Survive” remix has the businessman being a victim of the 9/11 attacks.)

Lycris

The preacher man says it’s the end of time
And the Mississippi River, she’s a-goin’ dry
The interest is up and the stock market’s down
And you only get mugged if you go downtown
I live back in the woods you see
My woman and the kids and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun, a rifle and a four-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk ’til dawn (Yeah)
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain’t too many things these old boys can’t do
We grow good-ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
Because you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run
‘Cause we’re them old boys raised on shotguns
We say grace, and we say ma’am
If you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn
We came from the West Virginia coal mines
And the Rocky Mountains, and the western skies
And we can skin a buck, we can run a trot line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
I had a good friend in New York City
He never called me by my name, just Hillbilly
My grandpa taught me how to live off the land
And his taught him to be a businessman
He used to send me pictures of the Broadway nights
And I’d send him some homemade wine
But he was killed by a man with a switchblade knife
For 43 dollars, my friend lost his life
I’d love to spit some Beech-Nut in that dude’s eyes
And shoot him with my old .45
‘Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
‘Cause you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run
‘Cause we’re them old boys raised on shotguns
We say grace, and we say ma’am
If you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn
We’re from North California and South Alabam’
And little towns all around this land
And we can skin a buck, and run a trotline
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
A country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

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