Top 40 of 2016: #14

My favorite country record of the year by a man — two men, actually — is this slightly left-field cover of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready for the Country” by Hank Jr. and his buddy Eric Church. The thing is, though, that he’s not really covering Neil; he’s covering Waylon Jennings, who made it the title track of his 1976 post-Wanted! The Outlaws! album and a #7 country hit. Predictably, Waylon’s version is a little soupy — though it does include horns! — whereas Hank’s take is his current brand of slightly Vegas-up’d country, with prominent fiddles and even an more prominent big-lunged female backing chorus. And in case you’d forgotten  (or never knew), he’s here to remind you: “My name is Bocephus,” he sings, after which Church adds, “And my name’s the Chief.” Here’s the thing, though: this could not be more tailor-made for Bocephus; he could’ve just as easily cut this 30 years ago in the midst of his ’80s glory years, with, say, Rodney Crowell in the young-buck guest star role. And it likely would’ve been just as great, because Hank Jr. has a knack for this kinda thing.

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About thomasinskeep

I write about music.
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