Family Tradition (Hank Williams Jr. song)

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"Family Tradition"
Single by Hank Williams Jr.
from the album Family Tradition
B-side "Paying on Time"
Released May 28, 1979
Format CD single
Recorded 1978
Genre Country, country rock
Label Elektra/Curb
Writer(s) Hank Williams Jr.
Producer(s) Jimmy Bowen
Hank Williams Jr. singles chronology
"To Love Somebody"
"Family Tradition"
"Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound"

"Family Tradition" is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Hank Williams Jr. It was released in May 1979 as the fourth and final single and title track from his album of the same name. It peaked at No. 4, and is one of his most popular songs. It has sold 909,000 digital copies as of April 2016.[1]


The song is a Williams' statement of rebellion, not only in his lifestyle and living out the lyrics of his songs, but of his musical identity and direction.

With the latter point, the lyrics state Williams' unapologetic desire to forge his own style, particularly in response to criticism for his change from countrypolitan and covers of his father's songs. At the same time proclaiming how proud and honored he is to be part of his father's musical legacy, the younger Williams makes clear that his musical style – southern rock fused with honky tonk – is very different from the blues-oriented honky-tonk popular during Williams' lifetime.

Taking off on the point of his father, the younger Williams notes that the hard-living lifestyle is a "family tradition," referring to the alcohol and drug use that became associated with his personal life.

Charlie Daniels performs the fiddle-led bridge between the second and third verses.[2]

When played in concert, at parties, or sung at karaoke, "Family Tradition" frequently becomes a call-and-response song during the chorus.[citation needed] One typical example:

  • "Why do you drink?"
  • "And why do you roll smokes?"
  • "Why must you live out/the songs that you wrote?"
  • "TO GET LAID!"

Political usage[edit]

For the 2008 US presidential campaign, Williams wrote a version of the song called "McCain-Palin Tradition" which included a line suggesting that Barack Obama had "terrorist friends."[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 4
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 4
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 16


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[4] Gold 909,000[1]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Bjorke, Matt (April 4, 2016). "The Top 30 Digital Country Singles: April 4, 2016". Roughstock. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Hank Williams Jr. says Obama doesn't like the National Anthem
  4. ^ "American single certifications – Hank Williams Jr. – Family Tradition". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 31, 2016.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH