Hank Williams Jr. Cashes in on Controversy
Country singer releases Keep The Change
Hank Williams Jr. is about to have his say. Williams' has cut a new song, "Keep the Change," calling out "Fox & Friends" and ESPN after an interview last week on the Fox News talk show led to the end of his association with the sports network and "Monday Night Football," long home to his "Are you ready for some football?" theme.
"I've been recording for five decades, and I knew that old over-the-fence feeling on this one," Williams said in an interview Monday afternoon. He's also scheduled to appear on "The View" and "Hannity" on Tuesday to discuss the uproar that sprung up after he made an analogy that President Barack Obama and House Speaker Rep. John Boehner golfing together was like Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu playing a round.
ESPN decided to pull Williams' intro from last week's "MNF" telecast after the comments, and the move became permanent Thursday when both sides said they'd decided to pull the spot. Williams wrote the topical third verse of "Keep the Change" when he woke up around 4 a.m. Friday. He borrowed a guitar once owned by George Jones to write the melody and was in a studio with a group of musicians by 4 p.m. The song was done by 5:30 and was being mastered Monday morning.
"It's got to be one of the fastest (I've recorded)," Williams said. It's now available for free for 48 hours at Williams' website. There also are new "Hank Jr. for President" T-shirts for sale.
In the song, Williams, son of country music icon Hank Williams, says "Fox & Friends" hosts twisted his words: "So Fox 'n Friends wanna put me down/Ask for my opinion/Twist it all around." He finishes the verse: "Well two can play that gotcha game you'll see." Early in the song, he says the U.S. is "going down the drain" and says it's becoming "The United Socialist States of America." He mentions keeping "Fox & Friends" and ESPN out of your home toward the end of the song.
Asked to elaborate on how he felt about "Fox & Friends," Williams said: "All you gotta do is listen to the song, folks." Williams' comments last Monday drew unlikely reactions with many commentators and comedians coming to his defense, claiming ESPN was infringing on his right to free speech. His defenders included the left-leaning Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar of "The View" and Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" and on the other side of the political landscape Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. "Saturday Night Live" also did a comedy bit featuring the Williams interview.
Of his appearance on "The View," he said: 'It'll be pretty simple. I'm really looking forward to it. I guess it's kind of like back to John Adams and Johnny Cash and The First Amendment and all that good American stuff."
Williams' theme song has been part of "MNF" since 1989. The song was a version of his hit "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" that he altered to match each week's game. He owns the song and all the rights to it, so ESPN will not be able to use it in any way. Instead, the network says it will use an intro featuring Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and soul singer Jimmy Scott prior to the Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions game Monday night. The introduction will change each week.
Williams has already moved on. The quickness with which the new song came together has him itching to put out a new album and he's in the early stages of planning a tour for next year. If he can find the time. "Believe it or not, I have another 212 call," he said in ending the interview, referring to the area code for New York City.