Gather ‘Round| “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr.


Paige Drob

Before talking about some great music, we need to acknowledge the tragic history surrounding this day and take a moment for all of the people of Indigenous ancestry who have been harmed and oppressed. It is a good day to reflect about not only what we are grateful for, but also how we have affected other people.

That said, Thanksgiving is a time to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and think about what you are thankful for and spend time with family. For many people all across the country, Thanksgiving might look a little different this year. 

Many families might be postponing their physical celebrations together, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t take the time to appreciate all the good things that have come your way and connect with your family in a more unique way. So go ahead, call your grandparents, your cousins, your aunts and uncles. Send a snapchat with your bitmojis in turkey costumes, or even send them a card in the mail the good old fashioned way.

Many families are connected through music, or even a certain special song. For my family that song is “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr. Now, I know you might think it is a little peculiar. After all, here’s the chorus:


‘Hank, why do you drink?/

Hank, why do roll smoke?/

Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?/

Stop and think it over/

Try and put yourself in my unique position/

If I get stoned and sing all night long, it’s a family tradition!’


You may think it is a bad message, or the song might just not be your cup of tea, but for my family it is a tune that brings us all together. It is played at every wedding reception, if it comes on the radio when we are together you can bet someone will be yelling “To get drunk!” or “To get stoned!” along with the song. My great grandma even has a decoration in her kitchen with the lyrics, “It’s a family tradition.”

The family of Hank Williams Jr. was pretty into music, as well. His father, Hank Williams Sr. is a country music legend and is often referred to as “Hillbilly Shakespeare”. His son, Hank Williams III has also released a number of albums of his own.

Hank Williams Jr. began by covering his father’s music, paying homage to his family and their past, but eventually moved on to making music of his own. Williams Jr. is often criticized for straying from the style of his father, and he references it in the song:


“I am very proud/

Of my daddy’s name/

Although his kind of music/

And mine ain’t exactly the same”


He knows he is different from his father, and he knows people might not agree on how he carries on the family name. But, no matter what, he carries on the family’s tradition of music. 

Many of you might think you are different from your family, maybe some of you think you are in fact too different, but there is no wrong way to carry on your family’s traditions, after all you are a piece of those traditions. 

Take some time today to think about your family traditions, no matter who you consider your family to be. Afterall, family is just the people you find a home with, whether that’s biological or not. Think about all the little things that make your family special. If you need some inspiration take a look at the live performance by the man himself.