Waylon Arnold Jennings
(June 15, 1937 — February 13, 2002) was a Country Music
artist. He was known as one of the frontrunners for the "outlaw country" sound of The Seventies
, joining Willie Nelson
and Merle Haggard
in that regard.
Jennings first worked with Buddy Holly
in the 1950s, nearly losing his life prematurely in the notorious airplane crash that killed Holly et al. (He gave his seat to The Big Bopper.) After a failed single for A&M Records, he recorded for RCA from 1965 through 1986, first reaching #1 in 1974 with "This Time." A guest appearance on Wanted! The Outlaws
— a multi-artist album which was the first country music album ever to earn a platinum certification — kicked his career into high gear.
Many of his songs, including "I'm a Ramblin' Man," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," are considered cornerstones of country music. His biggest crossover hit was the "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard
(Good Ol' Boys)." By the mid-eighties, the hits started to MCA Records brought only a handful of hits, including his last #1, "Rose in Paradise." He moved again to Epic Records
in 1990, managing the #5 "Wrong," the last big hit of his career, but he continued to record consistently until complications of diabetes brought his career to an end.
Jennings was married to singer Jessi Colter, best known for her hit single "I'm Not Lisa". Their son, Shooter, is a fairly well-known alternative-country artist.
- City Shout Outs: "Luckenbach, Texas" (yes, it's a real town, though neither Jennings nor the song's writers had ever been there).
- The City vs. the Country: "Luckenbach" again.
This coat and tie is chokin' me, and in your high society you cry all day
We've been so busy keepin' up with the Jones'
Four-car garage and we're still buildin' on
Baby, it's time we got back to the basics of love... let's go to Luckenbach, Texas...
- Clip Show: His 1983 album It's Only Rock & Roll ends with a medley of re-recorded versions of eight of his biggest hits.
- Concept Album: A Man Called Hoss.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Invoked with "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys".
- Early Installment Weirdness: Jennings always drew from a wide range of influences, which left RCA struggling to figure out how to market him in the 60s. They ended up labeling his style as "folk country" (as opposed to "folk rock"), but no one really understood what that was supposed to mean; he even had the original hit version of "MacArthur Park" (which was made far more famous by disco diva Donna Summer). His producers tried to fit his eclectic style into standard Nashville formulas with mixed results. It wasn't until the birth of the "outlaw" movement in the early 70s that he found a comfortable fit.
- Generation Xerox: His son Shooter, in 2006, released his first album, titled Put The 'O' Back In Country. Shooter also played his father in the movie Walk the Line
- I Wished You Were Dead: A rather tragic example. After Buddy Holly won a coin flip, Jennings was forced to take a bus to Minnesota while Holly took a plane. Holly joked "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up." Jennings joked back "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes." He was haunted by those words for the rest of his life.
- Lampshade Hanging: He released a song titled "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand."
- Listing Cities: "I'm a Ramblin Man".
- Murder Ballad: "Cedartown, Georgia". The song ends before the actual murder, but you don't doubt that the narrator's going to go through with it.
- Parting Words Regret / Survivor Guilt: After "The Day the Music Died", Jennings admitted he felt he shouldn't have jokingly cursed Holly's plane to crash after losing his plane seat to him in a coin flip.
- Super Group: The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson.
- Three Chords and the Truth: The outlaw sound that Jennings helped forge is known for its simple, raw production and lyrics.