Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years like the lovable fictional character Patrick Star, then it’s no secret that the National Football League (NFL) has been the constant subject of national debate due to its controversial protests during the National Anthem. — From dominating the media cycle and our social media feeds to early morning talk radio, the conversation has even found its way to our family dinner tables, and dictates what shoe brands some American’s purchase. But I suppose that’s what bringing awareness to social justice issues such as police brutality is intended to do, whether one may agree with the methods the players have chosen to bring light to the issue or not. Joining in on the conversation is none other than country music superstar and living legend Hank Williams, Jr. whose never shied away from sharing his views, whether political in nature, or just simply telling you how he feels on current events. From “Tired of Being Johnny B. Goode” on his 1979 critically acclaimed album release “Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound,” and his response to critics of contemporary southern rock infused country of the day with 1987’s “Young Country,” to his politically charged 2012 output “Old School, New Rules.” At this point, we all know where he stands, and if you didn’t by now, well then, quite frankly, that’s on you.
Cleverly titled “Take A Knee, Take A Hike,” Bocephus proves he’s still witty in the one-liner department. Kicking off with a hard driving back beat, and fiddle drenched instrumentation, there’s no doubting Hank Jr.’s firm footing in traditional and outlaw country music heritage even still today well into his late 60’s. Hank acknowledges that the players have the same Constitutional rights to Freedom of Speech as expressed in the lyricism of this song within the opening sentiments, “Some won’t stand for the anthem, and that’s their right. Well, freedom isn’t free, our military means our liberty,” but shows that he means business with the following verse, “so if you’re gonna take a knee, take a hike.”
Although the song may be new with a fresh feel that only Rockin’ Randall could deliver, Hank finds himself recycling a few verses from a previously released song of his,“We Don’t Apologize For America,” including the title itself in one line, which is from the previously noted, previously released 2012 album “Old School, New Rules.” — But overall, “Take A Knee, Take A Hike” is just a classic, old school, Hank Jr. just sayin’ what’s on his mind, and if you don’t like it, you can kiss his ass kinda song, and personally, that’s the way I like my country music. It’s real. It’s raw. And it’s unapologetically Hank. Whether you agree or not, it’s a catchy tune, one simply cannot deny. You’ll also be surprised to hear the late-great Merle Haggard’s voice in the closing verse, “When you’re runnin’ down my country, Hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.” Which, of course, is borrowed from the Haggard classic “Fightin’ Side of Me,” which Hank and Merle teamed up on in 2012 for a few verses featured in “We Don’t Apologize For America,” which paraphrased the Haggard classic in the song while paying homage to Merle and Hank’s friendship.
Now, it isn’t currently clear if this single is intended for any upcoming projects that Hank Jr. may be working on. However, it did confirm longstanding rumors that Hank was in the recording studio. Something also worth noting is that “Take A Knee, Take A Hike” was released as a surprise to Jr.’s fans through Hank’s own independent music imprint, Bocephus Records, and not through NASH Icon, Big Machine Records parent-sister label that veteran country music recording artists such as Hank Williams Jr., Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn and others are currently signed to.