Hank Williams Jr. recently released a new single to accompany “Georgia Women” and “.44 Special Blues,” titled “Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here.” It’s a honky tonk take on a classic hymn, written by Lightnin’ Hopkins in the 60s. Hopkins performed the song with Barbara Dane; it was released posthumously on the album “Sometimes I Still Believe She Loves Me” in 1996. For Hank Williams Jr’s version, he turned to producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to update the melody; together, they turned it from church hymn to blues classic.
“I’ve always flirted with this stripped-back blues – all the way back to the ’80s. But I finally made an album that’s just that, and I like it,” said Williams in a statement about “Rich White Honky Blues,” his upcoming album. The album is due out on June 17.
He definitely leaned into a bluesy sound on this song; it’s twangy, but versatile enough that you could hear it both at church and at a downtown honky tonk during a slow night. Auerbach assembled a talented band to accompany the legend; electric slide guitarist Kenny Brown, Eric Deaton on bass, and Kinney Kimbrough–son of Junior Kimbrough–on drums.
There’s a video to go along with the track, as well. It effortlessly transports listeners into Hank Williams Jr’s performing circle. “My brother Dan, the band, and I did our thing in the studio for a few days,” Williams said of the video. “And this video gives fans a look behind-the-scenes…in a room together, just playing the blues.
“Just perfect for an old southern hymnal,” Williams continued, speaking of the video’s Mississippi aesthetic. “It’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy ourselves.”
Hank Williams Jr. Releases New Single, Plus a Video That Encapsulates its Blues Origins
In the beginning of the song, you can hear the band hanging out, chatting, before they kick off the track. Hank Williams Jr.–who will be starting his 2022 tour this month–spoke about that split-second moment caught in the studio. “You can hear us hanging out before we slowly fumble our way into the song,” he said. “It’s a very raw and real moment in the studio caught on tape.”
Video director Tim Hardiman seemingly used an old camcorder to film the video in the studio, as there’s a blurry, fuzzy feeling to it; an old-school aesthetic for an old-school song. The video recaptures what it’s like to just be hanging out with your friends, making music. There’s an air of “what it used to be” about the video, like this is a peek through time. It’s offset by footage from small Mississippi towns, showcasing the widely accepted birthplace of blues.
“Jesus, Won’t You Come By Here” gives us that little shot of nostalgia; maybe for singing in church, or listening to Hank Williams records on the floor in the den, or driving down Main Street with the windows down in your small town. Whatever it is, it creates a certain feeling that’s unique for everyone.