Country Throwback: Hank Williams Jr. Performs ‘A Country Boy Can Survive’ on David Letterman in 1982

by Keeli Parkey

Hank Williams Jr. performed one of the songs that became synonymous with him during an appearance on David Letterman’s show in 1982.

After a brief introduction by Letterman, Hank Jr. takes center stage. He is sitting on a chair with his guitar. And, of course, he is wearing a hat and his trademark sunglasses. He then breaks out into the song “A Country Boy Can Survive.” It’s a performance that showcases the legendary country singer’s stage presence and his abilities as a songwriter.

Hank Williams Jr. sings: “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.”

The focus of the performance on Letterman is just Hank Jr. and his song. It’s how one should hear the song about life for so many people from “little towns all around this land”

“A Country Boy Can Survive” is a great country song. It’s a song about surviving. It’s a song about loving where you come from and the values you learned while living there. So many people can identify with Hank Williams Jr. and the lyrics he sings in this song.

Here’s another example of the lyrics: “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 trotline / And a country boy can survive / Country folks can survive.”

Hank Jr. wrote “A Country Boy Can Survive.” After writing and recording the song, he released it in January 1982. The song made it all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart during that year.

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, Hank Williams Jr. changed the lyrics and title of “A Country Boy Can Survive” to “America Will Survive.” He did this in order to create a patriotic song for his country.

You can watch Hank Williams Jr. perform “A Country Boy Can Survive” on David Letterman’s show during 1982 below

Hank Williams Jr. Survived Fall Down Mountain in 1976

The appearance by Hank Williams Jr. on David Letterman in 1982 came just a few years after he had survived a traumatic fall down a mountain in 1976. The singer was lucky to believe alive following the accident.

Against all odds, he lived to tell the tale of falling 500 feet down the mountain. According to an article by The Tennessean, Williams decided to go to Montana during August 1975 to enjoy the great outdoors hiking and mountain climbing. He was 26 years old at the time. Earlier that year, he had recorded “Hank Williams Jr. & Friends.” It would be this album that would show the world that he was not the same kind of singer that his father was.

However, on Aug. 8, before Williams began showing off the album to the world, he and a friend were hiking near Ajax Lake in Montana. While searching for goats on some difficult terrain, according to the article, the singer lost his footing and plummeted approximately 500 feet.

Luckily, he survived. But his road to recovery was very difficult. According to reports, it would take two years for Williams to bounce back from the accident. During that time he endured multiple surgeries. And, he has a beard in order to keep the scars he has from the accident hidden. That’s also why he is pretty much always seen wearing sunglasses.