When many country music fans think of Hank Williams Jr. they think of his current style. Bocephus became outlaw country royalty decades ago. His southern rock-infused brand of country has earned him a stack of hits as well as millions of fans. Songs like “A Country Boy Can Survive,” and the Monday Night Football theme, “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” are modern classics. However, before Hank Jr was raising hell and pushing boundaries, he was a clean-cut country singer. In fact, he got his start at a young age by following in his father’s iconic footsteps.
When Hank Williams Jr. was just days away from his fifteenth birthday, he stepped into Columbia Recording Studio B to cut what would be his second record. The record was a collaborative project with actress and pop singer Connie Francis. The album was called Connie Francis and Hank Williams Jr. Sing Great Country Favorites. They recorded it in three days between the eleventh and thirteenth of May, 1964.
As the title states, the album is full of classic country songs. The hits they selected for the disc were arranged as duets by Bill McElhiney who also produced the sessions. Fifty-seven years ago today, Hank Williams Jr. and Connie Francis recorded four of the twelve songs on the album. They cut “Wabash Cannonball,” “Blue Blue Day,” “Singin’ the Blues,” and “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time).”
Hank Williams Jr. and Connie Francis Cover Classics
Connie Francis and Hank Williams Jr. Sing Great Country Favorites was not a commercial success according to Allmusic. It also produced no singles. However, it is packed with some solid country music standards. The four songs that they recorded on May 12, 1964, were all hits for other artists before Hank Jr. and Connie Francis tackled them.
“Wabash Cannonball,” is the oldest song that Hank Williams Jr. and Connie Francis covered on the album. This song was written sometime in the 1800s and was originally known as “The Great Rock Island Route.” Many of the biggest musical artists in history have covered it. For instance, The Carter Family recorded the song in 1929. Other legendary artists such as Bing Crosby, Roy Acuff, and Chuck Berry also covered the classic folk tune.
“Blue Blue Day”
“Blue Blue Day,” was a huge hit for Country Music Hall of Famer Don Gibson in 1958. It hit the top of the Country and Western Best Seller chart and stayed there for two weeks. Gibson also wrote hit songs like “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and “Sweet Dreams.”
You can really hear Hank Sr.’s influence on Hank Williams Jr.’s voice in this song. He sounds almost identical to his father as he sings about the day that his lady left and found another man. You would never guess that he was weeks away from his fifteenth birthday.
Connie Francis and Hank Williams Jr. Cover Marty Robbins
Marty Robbins originally recorded “Singing the Blues,” in 1956. Guy Mitchell made the song a number-one hit later that same year. In 1964 Hank Williams Jr. and Connie Francis turned the song into a duet. It wasn’t a hit for them but it should have been.
“If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)”
Lefty Frizzell co-wrote and recorded “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time),” in 1950. It was one of his first singles and introduced the honky-tonk legend to the world. Frizzell took the song to number one. Hank Williams Jr. and Connie Francis turned the good-timing honky-tonk tune into a duet. It’s not surprising that Bocephus nails this song. However, you wouldn’t expect someone like Francis to lean into the tune quite so well. You really have to hear it to believe it.