Hank Williams, Jr., "Red, White and Pink Slip Blues"

hank-william-jrI’ll confess that when I read the title of this song, “Red, White and Pink Slip Blues”, I mentally groaned. But alas, Kevin assigned the single to me and like a dutiful blogger, I clicked on the link anyway.

Hank Williams Jr., though inarguably talented, is often known for his swagger that, sometimes, overshadows the quality of his art. So, a song that quite obviously covers the theme of economic hard times that this country, and the world, is currently facing could easily seem like an opportunistic ploy to capitalize on the nation’s vulnerability, as seems to have been the problem with other recent songs of this nature. As a result, I was all but certain that a song with this title would be more frivolous than cathartic.

Instead, ol’ Hank comes through with a song that aptly captures the story of so many Americans at this frightening time. From the first person perspective, he tells of a man who’s tried to do everything right, but still finds himself jobless and unable to even afford survival. He desperately sings:

“I hide the pickup truck

In Ricky Brown’s garage,

‘Cause there’s a repo man to dodge.

Slip out the back door,

Lord, I never thought I’

d live to see this day.

We’re going to need that truck

When they come to take the house away.”

His delivery appropriately reflects desperation and frustration, while the story he tells has become sadly realistic for all too many people as of late. Moreover, with the mood set by both the bluesy/swampy melodic structure and Hank’s heartfelt delivery, the song conveys sensitivity and conviction, which is surely imperative in a song such as this.

Grade: A

Listen: “Red, White, and Pink Slip Blues”



  1. Yes, the lyrics do fit talk of the struggles and it’s better than some of ol Hank’s recent topical songs but I still don’t think it has much of a chance of being a hit on the charts.

  2. Matt,
    I don’t expect it to do anything on the charts either. Hank’s just not a charting artist anymore.

  3. It’s a little late for Hank. The New York Times rightly pointed out that the first great protest song of our Bailout (the rich and New York) Nation is John Rich’s very fine “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”. Of course, this rule doesn’t always hold true. Charlie Daniels’s “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s a Flag” preceded TK’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”, which was the superior song. But in this case, Hank is plowing field that John Rich has already turned over.

  4. You know, I don’t really like either “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” or this, although Leeann’s review is ballin’. The Rich song sounds cool but isn’t terribly substantive to me, while this one treats the theme better but the sound grates on me. Different strokes.

  5. Songs like this work better for me in the first person. It feels more immediate. I liked the Rodney Atkins album a lot more than the Martina McBride album for the same reason, actually.

    Hank’s one of those millionaire artists who can still sound like he’s a factory worker. Good to hear from him again. He’s on my short list of legends who’d I’d instantly add to radio playlists across the country if I had the power.

  6. I agree, Dan: “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” isn’t terribly substantive. It’s really basically just observational. But it is on point: NYC (Merrill Lynch, Citi, Bear Sterns) gets bailed out, and Detroit (Chrysler) gets bankruptcy.

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