Hank Williams Jr. – Family Tradition -1982

Junior has every right to be proud of his daddy’s name. After all, he’s the son of a legend and icon.

“Family Tradition” is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Hank Williams Jr. It was released in May 1979 as the fourth and final single and title track from his album of the same name. It peaked at No. 4, and is one of his most popular songs. It has sold 909,000 digital copies as of April 2016.

The song is a Williams’ statement of rebellion, not only in his lifestyle and living out the lyrics of his songs, but of his musical identity and direction.

With the latter point, the lyrics state Williams’ unapologetic desire to forge his own style, particularly in response to criticism for his change from countrypolitan and covers of his father’s songs. At the same time proclaiming how proud and honored he is to be part of his father’s musical legacy, the younger Williams makes clear that his musical style – southern rock fused with honky tonk – is very different from the blues-oriented honky-tonk popular during Williams’ lifetime.

Taking off on the point of his father, the younger Williams notes that the hard-living lifestyle is a “family tradition,” referring to the alcohol and drug use that became associated with his personal life.

Charlie Daniels performed the fiddle-led bridge between the second and third verses.

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

“Why do you drink?”
“TO GET DRUNK!”
“And why do you roll smokes?”
“TO GET HIGH!”
“Why must you live out/the songs that you wrote?”
“TO GET LAID!”

Lycris

Country music singers
Have always been a real close family
But lately some of my kinfolks
Have disowned a few others and me
I guess it’s because
I kinda changed my direction
Lord, I guess I went and broke their family tradition
They get on me and want to know
Hank, why do you drink?
Hank, why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Over and over
Everybody makes my prediction
So if I get stoned, I’m just carrying on
An old family tradition
I am very proud
Of my daddy’s name
Although his kind of music
And mine ain’t exactly the same
Stop and think it over
Put yourself in my position
If I get stoned and sing all night long
It’s a family tradition
So don’t ask me
Hank, why do you drink?
Hank, why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
If I’m down in a honky-tonk
And some ole slick’s trying to give me friction
I’ll say leave me alone
I’m singing all night long
It’s a family tradition
Lordy, I have loved some ladies
And I have loved Jim Beam
And they both tried to kill me in 1973
When that doctor asked me
“Son, how did you get in this condition?”
I said, “Hey, Sawbones
I’m just carrying on an ole family tradition”
So don’t ask me
Hank, why do you drink?
Hank, why do roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Stop and think it over
Try to put yourself in my unique position
If I get stoned and sing all night long
It’s a family tradition

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