When evolutionary biologists speak of “survival of the fittest,” part of what they mean is “survival of the most fecund.” It doesn’t matter how strong, smart, or slippery you are—if you don’t reproduce, you don’t get a plaque in the Darwinian Hall of Fame. No consolation prize, no white ribbon, nothing. It took billions of years of blood, sweat, and cellular division to produce you, but without progeny this age-long process ends with your lonesome, pathetic corpse. On the other hand, you can be scrawny, crippled, and unswervingly whiskeybent, yet it takes only one well-placed sperm to extend your earthly existence for another generation.
In 1953, Hank Williams took a touch too much and became a seminal rock martyr at age 29—but not before filling his wife Audrey with a baby Hank. Darwin doesn’t care if you die young, so long as you fuck fast enough to outpace the Reaper.
Hank Jr.—lovingly known as “Bocephus” among Monday Night Football fans—kept the flame burning, and went on to sire his own baby Hank. Even before his face was torn off and then reattached after plummeting 500 feet from a Montana mountaintop, Bocephus never looked much like his father. Cynical gossiphoppers even suggested that he was the illegitimate son of Audrey’s backdoor man. Then along came Tricephus, who’s the spittin’ image of Hank Sr.
Aside from the devilish smirk and pointed nose, Hank III also inherited his grandfather’s musical gifts. Where Hank Sr. sang about seeing the Light, his grandson stared into the Darkness. Ranging from hillbilly to hardcore, Hank III’s music is classified under more subcategories than the human papillomavirus, collecting such wearisome labels as “neotraditional country,” “honky punk,” and “sludge metal.” Of course, Nashville’s hit-hungry executives have always called it garbage. Undaunted, Hank III refuses to produce fiddle-laced synthpop—and his unabashed promotion of sex, drugs, and Satan remains distasteful to an industry that prefers to cloak the Devil in a choir robe. If that ever mattered, it doesn’t anymore. As of December 31, 2010, he is released from all contractual obligations to Curb Records, and free to make music on his own terms.
Ca$hville’s elite may snub Hank III, but he has gathered a cult following that David Koresh would have envied. I saw him perform at the Cannery Ballroom last year, and the energy is phenomenal. The kids still hoot and hop to his country set, then smash each other’s faces in when he takes the stage with his metal band, Assjack.
This diverse approach attracts a wild variety of groupies, from cowgirl hats to pierced clits, or both. Hank III’s most forthcoming interview was conducted by Jim Goad, author of The Redneck Manifesto, who went on to open for Hank on his 2007 tour. Cozied up in the back of a tour bus, their conversation touches on Williams’ sexual initiation as a child at the hands of a twisted family member, his contraction of a bizarre venereal disease in his nostril, and the time his band gangbanged a promoter’s wife—at the promoter’s request. Rock stars do the darnedest things.
Evolutionists often cite the inefficiency of such wanton seed-spilling as evidence that a Creator did not design the vertebrate mating mechanism. They ask smugly, “Why waste all of that energy generating and deploying billions of sperm that never produce offspring?” For rock stars, the answer is clear: For fun! Of course, when the fluids are toweled off and the tour bus is cleared, there is always the miraculous possibility that another mouth-to-feed is on its way into the world.
Hank III’s first Music Row record deal was signed in 1996 in order to scrape up $60,000 for overdue child support. Using recording studio necromancy, Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts combined the voices of grandfather, father, and son to pay for the fourth generation’s hot meals. Though Hank III has dismissed the album as a cash-grab out of necessity, it is a fitting tribute to his free-wheeling grandpappy, who was known to father illegitimate children and hawk products from time to time.
In observance of infernal tradition, Hank III has paid homage to various rock star martyrs besides his grandfather. Most of his performances include covers of the late scumfuck, GG Allin, whose songtitles—“Drink, Fight, and Fuck,” “Legalize Murder,” “Expose Yourself to Kids”— read like a to-do list in a redneck day planner. Hank III also created a guitar graphic to honor his fallen friend, “Dimebag” Darrell, who made his name as a shredder in Pantera before being gunned down onstage in 2004.
Hank III is committed to living up to the rebel image of liver-shriveling excess and youth on the fast-track to Hell—all except the part where you live fast and die young. Faced with faltering vocal chords at age 38, he (again) claims to be attempting moderation, determined to “stick around for the long fight and not fade out too early.” Considering the grim alternative, who could blame him?
Still, he can always romanticize an early death. In the classic tradition of country covers, Hank III recorded “Atlantic City”—written by one-time working class hero (before his exclusive album distribution deal with Wal-Mart), Bruce Springsteen. The song’s wayfaring protagonist goes for one last seduction as Death creeps up on his heels, and I like to imagine his dolled-up lover with a bun in the oven, who will carry his reckless genes one step further in the race against Oblivion.
© 2011 Joseph Allen
Hank Williams III — “Atlantic City”