Social Distortion's Mike Ness on His 10 Best Country-Punk Covers

From the punk godfather's take on Johnny Cash to an unexpected Kitty Wells song

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"Ball and Chain" (Honky-Tonk Version), Social Distortion

Not many artists get the chance to actually cover themselves. Social Distortion's signature song "Ball and Chain" first appeared on their 1990 self-titled third album, helping to establish the band's bluesy, rootsy iteration of punk. Ness has even referred to "Ball and Chain" as a "folk prayer" type of song and chose to include a playful "honky-tonk" version of it to close out Under the Influences. "When you hear songs you already know in a different context, it's not that the message changes, it's just that sometimes you can hear the message better," he says.

More than just a one-off exercise, this particular cover functions as a precursor of things to come for the band. "That version of 'Ball and Chain' is a prime example of what we want to do in the next couple of years, which is make an acoustic Social D record," says Ness. "We're going to take older, classic Social D songs and rework them acoustically, showing people that there's a completely different side to these songs that they never expected."

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