FORT WORTH -- Hank Williams Jr. prides himself on being obstinate, opinionated and politically incorrect. Itâs a âFamily Tradition,â he claims.
But even Hank Sr. might have been gagging on his bourbon in the great beyond Sunday night after hearing the bigoted comments his little Bocephus made at the Stockyards Music Festival.
âWeâve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!â Williams said, as the crowd let out a loud but less-than-unanimous cheer.
The 63-year-old singer began his anti-gay commentary a few songs earlier, mocking âqueer guitar pickersâ in the middle of âAll My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Downâ before moving on to his next target: Liberal politicians, who he told to âmove to Mexicoâ at the end of âWe Donât Apologize For America.â
Williams released that straw man anthem in wake of Octoberâs kerfuffle in which he compared President Obama to Adolph Hitler on Fox & Friends. ESPN responded by yanking âAll My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonightâ off Monday Night Football, and on Sunday, Williams added a line in the new song âKeep the Changeâ telling ESPN to take a hike.
His mix of redneck politics and music has long been a big part of his appeal to some fans, like the guy who kept waving a Confederate flag in front of the stage. But it neednât be. Williamsâ is one of countryâs most versatile showmen, as he reminded the crowd with his bold fusion of Southern rock, folk, blues and piano boogie. Itâs just too bad his open-minded approach to music doesnât carry over to the rest of his brain.
Williams headlined the 10-hour event, which took place on two stages at the North 40, a dusty dirt field near Billy Bobâs Texas where Willieâs Picnic has also been staged. Pat Green played a sundown set highlighted by his version of Joe Elyâs timeless âAll Just to Get to You,â and Merle Haggard followed with songs by Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, and his own classics including âMama Tried.â
At 75, Haggard is still in near-perfect voice, as he showed with his mellifluous reading of âPancho and Lefty.â And heâs still almost as conservative as Williams, as he reminded fans with his hippie-baiting 1969 hit âOkie from Muskogee.â
But the big difference between Hank Jr. and the Hag is the latter chooses to let his music do the talking.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas freelance writer.