OFFSTAGE: Dierks Bentley Will Miss Hank Jr. on Mondays

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Monday nights will probably never be the same for Dierks Bentley. “I’m gonna miss that song. For me, hearing that song was as big as the game almost,” he told me of Hank Williams Jr.’s opening song for ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecast. The song, “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” had been reworked to include the famous lyric “Are you ready for some football?” Bentley and I had a chance to catch up Sunday (Oct. 9) when he was in Chicago for his Miles & Music for Kids charity motorcycle ride and concert. We talked music and motorcycles, obviously, and sports. And ESPN’s decision (or was it Williams’ decision?) to let that song go after 20 years because of some derogatory comments he made about President Obama during an interview on Fox & Friends. “It was such a big part of Monday Night Football for me. And for so many football fans. What are they gonna replace it with?,” he wondered. For now, the opening song will be Jimmy Scott and the Selected of God gospel choir doing “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.” But like a lot of people, Bentley didn’t really get what Williams’ derogatory comments meant. “The analogy [Williams] made can be interpreted so many different ways, I don’t really understand what he was even saying,” he said. “If you use the word ’Hitler,’ you’re gonna be in hot water one way or the other.” And when I asked what he thought Williams was thinking, Bentley just said, “He’s Hank Williams Jr., and they’re not. He’s probably like, ’Their loss.'”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.