The pandemic forced the Country Music Hall of Fame to postpone last year’s induction ceremony. As a result, the class of 2020 took their place in the ranks of country music’s greatest last night. During that ceremony, Hank Williams Jr. carried on a family tradition. He followed his legendary father into the Hall of Fame.
Each inductee gets to choose who will play for them when they enter the Hall of Fame. Hank Williams Jr. chose a smoking hot lineup: Shooter Jennings, Alan Jackson, and Eric Church. Chief took to the stage to perform his take on the Bocephus classic “A Country Boy Can Survive.” Check out a clip from his performance below.
When Hank Williams Jr. cut “A Country Boy Can Survive” for his 1981 The Pressure Is On, it was a rocking-country anthem. Eric Church took a different approach. In the above clip, we can see that he took the classic tune and took it back to the roots of American music with a talking blues-style rendition.
The differences between Eric Church’s and Hank Williams Jr.’s versions of the song are evident. However, the defiant spirit of the song shines like a neon sign on a cloudy night. That spirit comes through in more than the lyrics. It’s also in Church’s expressions and mannerisms while he delivers the song.
Hank Williams Jr. & Eric Church: The Comparissons
It’s easy to see why Hank Williams Jr. chose Eric Church to play for him at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Since he hit the scene, folks have been comparing Chief to Bocephus. They may very well be on to something.
First, they have similar looks. Hank Williams Jr. sports a full beard, hat, and sunglasses. However, that’s not just about style. Hank Jr. almost died when he fell from Ajax Peak back in 1975. That fall left him with some serious facial scarring. He sports the beard, hat, and shades to hide those scars. Likewise, Church always wears a hat and shades. Again, this isn’t just a stylistic choice. Church wears his trademark Ray-Bans to keep the stage lights from drying out his contacts.
Then, there is the attitude. Hank Williams Jr. truly made a name for himself after his fall. He came back with a brand new rock-infused sound that flew in the face of country music at the time. They branded him an outlaw. This would become his hallmark and you can hear that sound in just about everything he releases. At the same time, you can hear Williams’ influence in Church’s music. Additionally, Chief showed his outlaw spirit on his first big tour with Rascal Flatts. They kicked him off the tour for playing too long and too loud.
We really couldn’t cover Hank Willliams Jr. and Eric Church without mentioning their collab “Are You Ready for the Country” from Hank’s album It’s About Time. Their cover of the Waylon Jennings tune is killer.