“I was fascinated with his style of singing – when we started doing the Highwayman shows ten years ago – I screwed up the band, because I insisted on playing rhythm to Willie’s singing. Then I realized, after a couple of songs, that you just can’t do that.”
I hear the train a comin’
It’s rolling round the bend
And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone.
When I was just a baby my mama told me. Son,
Always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns.
But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry.
I bet there’s rich folks eating in a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee and smoking big cigars.
Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a movin’
And that’s what tortures me…
Well if they freed me from this prison,
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I’d move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away…
Produced by Fred Foster
Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton
Johnny Cash hosted a television special to celebrate release of album, and also wrote the liner notes for this album, Dolly, Brenda, Kris and Willie. He wrote something about each artist, and here is what he wrote about Willie:
Like a thief in the night
Like the witch on her broom
The red-headed stranger
Came right through her bedroom
No, actually I’m kidding. He was a little reluctant to walk through the bedroom at eleven o’clock at night with Waylon Jennings and myself. They had come over to see me and I said, “Let’s go into my little back room and sit and talk and pick awhile.” We passed John Carter’s bedroom where he was asleep.
“Come on and follow me,” I said. leading the way through the master bedroom to my little get-away-from-it-all-writing-reading-picking-listening refuge.
“I’m afraid we’ll wake June,” said Willie, tiptoeing past the bed where she slept.
“C0me one,” I said, and the three of us walked Indian style through the dim lit room and into my private place.
“I’ve always been a dreamer. I mean, I have vivid technicolor, wide-screen stereo dreams. Oftimes I dream of things that are happening, sometimes I dream of things that will happen, sometimes I’m dreaming of things even before I’m sound asleep. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of a dream not knowing what the end was to be. I go back to sleep, commanding my mind to finish the dream.
Twenty years ago I had a dream about Willie Nelson. I hadn’t spoken with, nor seen him, in about three years.
In my dream, Willie and I were sitting in a dresing room, swapping songs. I sang him a song I had leanred from a demo which Gene Ferguson had given me called The Ballad of Ira Hayes.
Willie said, “You should do an album of Indian songs.”
“I will,” I said. “I never thought of doing a whole album of Indian stuff”
“You will,” I said. “I never thought of doing a whole album of Indian stuff.”
“You will,” said Willie in my dream. (It’s called Bitter Tears.)
Willie said, “Let me sing you one, John. I thought of you when I wrote it.” “They’re all the same.
The dream was over at the end of they’re all the same.
Next morning I called my secretary. “Try to find me a number where I can call Willie Nelson,” I said. “Willie Nelson, the songwriter. I think he’s living in Nashville.”
An hour later I was talking to him. I congratulated him on the success of some of his big songs he had written recorded by other artists. He kindly returned the compliments. “Willie,” I said. “You might think I’m a little weird, but I dreamed about you last niht.” There was silence on his end, so I went on. “I dreamed you sang a song to me, one you had written clled they’re all the same.”
:Do you have a song called They’re All the Same?” I asked.
“Yes, I do,” he said, barely above a whisper.
“Would you send it to me” I asked. “Maybe I can record it.”
A long pause, then willie said. “Sure, give me your address.”
Willie sent the song and I played it a hundred times, but I never recorded it. I was beginning to get heavily into something else and somewhere along the way, I must have lost the demo of ‘Thy’re All the Same.’
Now, back to 1979. Willie, Waylon and I were sitting in my room just off the bedroom where June was asleep, just off the bedroom where John Carter was asleep.
I hadn’t seen Willie in ten years. The hair was long and plaited. The beard was full and red, and the eyes were clear and intelligent. Waylon kept his hat on and sweated like I do.
I was a little shy myself because I was in the presence of two of country music’s all time greats. I was also a little awed by Willie Nelson for his amazing rise to super stardom.
We sang a few songs quietly. Willie was still concerned with waking June.
“Willie;,” I said, “do you remember ‘They’re all the same’?”
“Man,” he said. “That’s been a long tme ago. Didn’t I send you that?”
“Yes, but I lost it.”
“I’ll send you another tape of it,” he said. “Let me sing you this one.” And he sang a song which became a number one record for him. But he still hasn’t sent me a tap on ‘They’re All the Same.’ Maybe he forgot it, too.
Not more than an hour had passed when Waylon said, “We’d better go, John. I know you and June had already gone to bed.”
“Don’t go,” I said, and to Willie, “I haven’t seen you in so long and I want to spend some more time with you.”
They insised that it was too late to keep me up and again expressed their concern of waking June on the way out.
I led the way and June was still asleep. I stopped and went over and shook June awake. Only the night light was on and as I started to turn on the bedside light, Wilie said, “No, John, don’t do that.”
In the dim light, I said, “June, here’s some old buddies, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.” Waylon went over and hugged her, and Willie knelt down beside the bed and kissed her on the cheek.
“HOw have you been, Miss June?” he said.
June started talking up a storm. “It’s so good to see you both. Why didn’t you wake me, John? Waylon, how’s Jessi? Willie, it’s so good to see you. John and I are so proud for you.”
“Didn’t mean to wake you pu, Miss June,” said Willie, “But it’s good to see you.”
:Oh, that’s alright, stay, John, turn on the light.”
“No, Miss June, we’re going. Hope we didn’t make too much noise.”
“Come back anytime, Willie. Come back, Waylon, and bring Jessie,” said June.
Waylon tipped his hat and followed Willie past John Carter’s bedroom and on out the door.
I waived goodbye to them as they got in the car and closed the door. I started past John Carter’s open bedroom door, back into our bedroom, but he was awake and standing there. “Who’s that, Daddy?” he asked.
“Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.”
He started back to his bed and stopped, “I smell something funny,” he said.
“Like what, John Carter?” I asked.
“I don’t know, he said, crawling under his covers.
Crawling in bed by June, I thought of the miles and the troubles my visitors must have known in their lives. They had been everywhere and done everything, but then so have I, I thought. Maybe I smell funny.
Willie’s a mon on The Willing Hand
Nelson is his name
Some fly high and some fly low
But theyrenot all the same
For a winning man with a winning hand
You never see brought down
One year he might disappear
And no more be seen in town
He’s got lots of things I’ve not
An he’ll master the movie game
He’ll be back along to sing his song
nd they’re not all the same
This record made in this decade
Is this decade’s number one
There is no doubt in my mind without
Willie Nelson it could not have been done
Now my take is said
And I thaik yo, Fred
You are one might man
To work it out
And bring about
The platinum The Winning Hand
Director and producer Jim Brown talks about the making of The Highwaymen: Friends Til The End, his admiration for the musicians’ camaraderie, passion for music and having a clear purpose in their careers. American Masters — The Highwaymen: Friends Til The Endpremieres nationwide Friday, May 27, 2016, at 9/8c on PBS (check local schedule) as part of the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series, exploring how these men came together and the fruits of their historic collaboration.
It’s Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson like you’ve never experienced them. That’s because this concert footage has never been seen before.
CMT has the video premiere of the super group’s performance of “Good Hearted Woman,” recorded live at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, on March 14, 1990.
It’s all part of the new collection The Highwaymen Live — American Outlaws, a CD/DVD package arriving May 20 with previously unreleased concert performances from the legends.
In addition to the complete concert from their 1990 tour, the Columbia/Legacy package includes various performances at Farm Aid and a previously unreleased version of Cash and Jennings’ take on Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings.”
American Masters — The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End, a new feature-length documentary on the supergroup, will premiere May 27 on PBS.
Johnny, Waylon & Willie do ‘Desperados Waiting for a Train’ in previously unseen footage.
There aren’t four more recognizable or legendary faces in music—country or otherwise—than those that comprised supergroup The Highwaymen. Formed unintentionally in 1984 in Montreux, Switzerland, when Johnny Cash invited Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings to be guests on a Christmas special he was taping, the foursome found a collaborative creative fire that would etch itself forever into the lore of country music.
“There’s the four of us standing there, grouped around microphones,” wrote Jennings in his autobiography, Waylon: An Autobiography. “The Highwaymen. John, Kris, Willie, and me. I don’t think there are any other four people like us. If we added one more, or replaced another, it would never work.”
Having four established artists known for doing what they want, when they want, work together is the sort of endeavor that can explode brilliantly or implode dramatically with equal ferocity. When it came to playing live for The Highwaymen, it was almost the latter, until the moment when they found a way to come together. Jennings addressed this in his book as well.
“When we first took The Highwaymen out live, it looked like four shy rednecks trying to be nice to each other. It almost ruined it. That didn’t work, for us and the audience, and it was really bothering me, how different we were on stage than when we were sitting around in the dressing room. [At one point] I was fixin’ to quit. I talked to John about it and he was feeling the same way. ‘I get a little nervous,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to look like I’m trying to steal your thunder.’ That was it. We were boring each other and the audience. It may be hard to think of Johnny Cash as intimidated, but that’s the way we were. You can’t have four big guys tiptoeing around each other on stage. Nobody has a good time. By the end of the week, with Willie dancing across the stage and John and Kris singing harmony neck-and-neck, we had the wildest show, and it made us a group.”
Over the course of their decade-long run, The Highwaymen released three records, charted multiple singles, and won a Grammy for Best Country Song for their tune, “Highwayman,” as well as playing barn-burner live shows that will forever rate as “you should have been there.” You can watch part of one of those performances below, featuring the song “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” filmed March 4, 1990, at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
While there will never be another group like The Highwaymen, their legacy lives on with a celebratory new multimedia box set, The Highwaymen Live—American Outlaws, out May 20. Featuring unreleased footage—including the entire Nassau concert as well as Farm Aid performances—and songs, as well as wildly fun to read liner notes from music scholar Mikal Gilmour, the box set is complemented by a PBS documentary, American Masters—The Highwaymen, ’til the End, which premieres May 27.
For the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s fourth Pops show of the 2015-16 season, they’ve decided it’s time to give the Gaillard Center a good-ole down-home feeling. After saluting Latin music, Louis Armstrong, and holiday classics, the CSO is going country with a special Country Legends concert, saluting the icons of country music, along with a few surprising choices — ack, Billy Ray Cyrus.
The entire affair will kick off with the theme from the legendary Western The Magnificent Seven, courtesy of the 24-piece CSO, under the direction of Maestro Ken Lam. After that, Lam and company will take the audience on a guided tour of country music history, from Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin'” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Faith Hill’s “Breathe.” Along the way there will also be songs by Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and, the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers.
“We’re trying to provide a show that’s got a little bit of something for everybody,” says the CSO Artistic Director Kyle Lane. “We have a very robust classical audience that likes to come see the orchestra do the works of Mozart or programs like that, but for the Pops we kind of have a different audience.”
For this show, the orchestra will be joined by two featured vocalists: Patrick Thomas and Rachel Potter. Thomas was a finalist on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice, and Potter was a finalist on Season 3 of Fox’s The X Factor.
“They’re both really talented singers who specialize in country music,” Lane says. “We’re excited to bring them in, and along with the orchestra, they’re going to play some of the great country classics in pretty chronological order, which I didn’t realize until I started looking at the tunes. It starts out with the artists you’d think of as classic country, Dolly Parton and artists like that, and marches forward to today with artists like Carrie Underwood.”
Rather than simply have the orchestra serve as background accompaniment to Thomas and Potter, however, Lane says the CSO has sought out ways to be an integral part of the show. “For a lot of these songs, we’ve found a way to weave the orchestra into them,” he says. “For example, on Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia,’ our concert-master is going to play the violin solos. That’s one of the easier ways we figured out, but there will be some creative arrangements with things like ‘Breathe.’ We’re mixing the classical and country styles to deliver something that’s a little more unique.”