Leave Them Boys Alone

Album: Strong Stuff (1983)
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Songfacts®:

  • Hank Williams, Jr. performed this hit, which peaked at #6 on the Country chart, with honky tonk veteran Ernest Tubb and fellow outlaw country singer Waylon Jennings. The song thumbs its nose at critics of the outlaws' hard-living lifestyle and hard-talking music ("Why don't you leave them boys alone, let 'em sing their songs?"). It also takes aim at the emergence of country pop and its rising popularity over the honky tonk roots of authentic country music. Williams wrote this with Dean Dillon - a Nashville songwriter gaining steam penning songs for then-up-and-comer George Strait - along with country artists Gary Stewart and Tanya Tucker.
  • Dillon had his own rebellious streak and brought it with him to the writing table. He was fed up with the way country outlaws were being treated and was tired of his publishing company trying to dictate who he was allowed to write with. He said in a 2012 Songfacts interview: "I was like, 'Screw you. I'll write with who I want to write with, when I want to do it'... These guys were outlaws and they pushed the envelope and there was a lot of flack on Music Row about them. And the American public in general had a lot of questions about their lifestyles. And I was like, 'Why don't you just forget who they are and listen to them sing.'"
  • This was the last song recorded by Ernest Tubb. He died of emphysema the following year at age 70.

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