For 22 years, Hank Williams Jr.’s voice was synonymous with “Monday Night Football.”
A version of his song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” called “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” opened the show until 2011 when ESPN and Williams parted ways over controversial comments he made on “Fox and Friends” likening then-President Barack Obama golfing with then-Rep. House Speaker John Boehner to Adolf Hitler golfing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After a six-year hiatus, Williams is returning to ESPN with a new version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” that features country duo Florida Georgia Line and R&B singer Jason Derulo.
“You know, this was like coming home for me,” Williams said in an email. “The fans wanted the song back and ESPN knew that I controlled the song since I wrote it, but I think they wanted to freshen it up some so they added (Florida Georgia Line) and Jason to the mix. I think people will be glad that ‘Are You Ready For Some Football’ is back!”
Williams, the son of legendary country singer Hank Williams, is also returning to Northern Quest Resort and Casino, having performed there in 2015.
He’ll close the resort’s Pepsi Outdoor Summer Concerts series on Friday while on tour in support of his latest record, 2016’s “It’s About Time
“It’s About Time” is Williams’ 37th album and first on Nash Icon Records, an imprint launched by Big Machine Label Group founder Scott Borchetta (Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett) that includes musicians like Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Ronnie Dunn on its roster.
The album debuted at No. 2 on the “Billboard” Top Country Albums chart.
“I guess the fans are still wanting Bocephus music after all these years,” Williams said, referring to his father’s nickname for him.
On “It’s About Time,” Williams and his team changed things up by recording both original tunes and songs written by others.
For his part, Williams didn’t look to any one place for inspiration. He simply takes it as it comes.
“When I write, it can be in a deer stand or in my gun shop,” he said. “Songs just come to me and I have to write them down when they are fresh on my mind.”
He also covered Neil Young’s “Are You Ready for the Country?” with musician Eric Church and Mel Tillis’ “Mental Revenge” as an ode to singer Waylon Jennings, who covered both songs during his career.
“They just fit the theme of the album,” Williams said. “Sometimes songs just work and sometimes they don’t.”
He also remade his own “Born to Boogie,” from the 1987 album of the same name, with Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore and Brad Paisley.
Though “It’s About Time” features a handful of contemporary country artists, all of which Williams called great guys, he can only take so much of what he calls pop country.
“It’s about time for some country songs/It’s about time to play some southern rock to the bone/Cause we’ve had enough of this weird pop country sound/On my guitar, brothers and sisters come, and gather around/A country state of mind,” Williams sings on the title track.
But over the course of his five-decade career, Williams has learned that what’s popular changes over time.
“I remember when people told me that my music was too loud and wouldn’t work at radio and look what happened, IT DID!” he said. “I guess sounds change and people’s tastes for music change with each generation. What I did back then may not work today, but that’s OK. Everyone has to adapt if they want to compete.”
No matter what he does to adapt, Williams is confident his fans will be around, always wanting more Bocephus music.
“I happen to have some of the most loyal fans in the business, so I am spoiled,” he said.
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