One Track Mind: Hank III and David Allan Coe, “The Outlaw Ways” (2013)

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A collaboration between Hank III and David Allan Coe has been long talked about and hinted at by III, something that’s been met with a great deal of excitement by both camps of fans. It’s finally here, and the first disappointment is that it’s only one song, “The Outlaw Ways.”

Things start on a good foot, with an old-fashioned country swagger and a little mutual appreciation. It’s intended to be sort of an updated take on Waylon Jennings and Hank Jr.’s “The Conversation,” as Coe sings “You know your grandpa was one of my heroes Hank,” and III answers, “David, you were always one of mine.” They move on to pay a little homage to Jennings, Junior and Johnny Cash. They also take a shot at the Grand Ole Opry and its refusal to reinstate Hank Sr., as III has done for years. All of that’s well and good, and it works.

But both of these guys also like to talk about themselves, and that’s kind of where it goes off the rails, as they start breaking their arms off to pat each other on the back and making references to each other’s songs. Then, of course, they agree with each other. I’m already a little leery about it because of the song title. There are so many guys out there half-rapping about dirt roads and trucks and labeling themselves outlaws that I kind of cringe at the use of the word these days. Granted, there’s probably not a singer on the planet more entitled to use the term than Coe. If the shoe fits, I suppose, but I still think I’d rather hear the two singing about a subject other than themselves.

That said, it’s not a bad song. Probably better than most of the songs from III’s disappointing Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town release. It’s a definite grower, and you kind of get over the self-congratulatory stuff after a couple of listens. And it’s still Hank III and David Allan Coe together. But I expected a whole lot more from this pairing, and I wish we’d gotten at least a few more songs out of the collaboration.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips

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