Archive for the ‘Waylon Jennings’ Category
On May 2, 1985, Columbia Records released the “Highwayman” album, with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson
The Highwaymen:Â Four Superstars Come Together
Music City News
by Neil Pond
I was a highwayman
Along the coach roads I did ride
A sword and pistol by my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The master took me in the spring of ‘25
But I am still alive
I’ll always be around, and around, and around, and around.
by Jimmy Webb
Mystical and uplifting, Highwayman has become the summer’s collaborative hit for the superstar quartet of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Their new LP, also called “Highwayman,” is a a coming together of boldly distinctive stylists that prompted one reviewer to observe “if Mount Rushmore could sing, this is what it would sound like.”
At Willie’s recent 4th of July picnic event in Austin, the audience was treated to the first ever public appearance of “The Highwaymen,” as the foursome have come to be collectively called. After an all-day rain, the quartet gathered onstage to sing three songs as the sky gradually opened and spilled luminous orange twilight throughout the dissipating clouds. It was a grandiose bit of meterological staging — coincidence, you ask? — that fit nicely with the cover of the album, which shows the heavens parting and the four entertainers peering through like gentle mythological gods.
But the “Highwayman” project, despite it’s majestic overtones, was not a carefully calculated attempt at clustering the individual stars into one spectacular supernova recording — although that’s pretty much how things turned out.
The album’s roots are actually in Switzerland, where Willie, Waylon and Kris were guests of Cash at the taping a Christmas TV special last year. After performing together on the show the four returned stateside and joined forces to cut a couple of songs intended for Cash’s upcoming solo album. One of the songs was Bob Seger’s Against the Wind, which they had all performed together on the TV special. The other was Highwayman, a song by New York-based writer Jimmy Webb themed around reincarnation.
“We’d intended it for my solo album,” says Cash of the song. “But the more we recorded together, the more we realized that it should be an album of the four of us.”
Once the idea for an entire quartet album was concrete, Cash decided to sideline his own album until the group project could be completed. For three nights the four singer/songwriters gathered at producer Chips Moman’s Nashville studio and bantered around songs that they felt would be appropriate for their collaboration.Â They drew from material both familiar (like Cash’s own Big River and Guy Clark’s Desparados Waiting for a Train and obsure to come up with a slate of songs that somehow seemed to fit their individual and collective imagery as purveyors of things original, Old-Western, and American.
It’s the title cut, however, that is attracting the most attention. Already a hit single and an engaging video, its haunting theme of reincarnation makes for unusual country music fare. In the song, Willie, Kris, Waylon and Cash each sing the part of a different individual who, in the end, turns out to be various reincarnations of the same person, the highwayman of the title.
“As far as subject matter, it’s a very meaty topic,” explains Rick Blackburn, head of Nashville’s CBS Records who gave the ultimate go-ahead for “Highwayman.” “But I think country music is ready to deal with heavier topics as opposed to the stereotypes we’ve had all along.”
Lest some listeners imply that the enterainers themselves might be espousing personal afterlife philosopy with the song, Cash responds that he, for one, holds to other beliefs.
“I don’t believe in reincarnation,” he says. “I’m a Christian and I sang the song because I liked it. It’s a good song. It’s a good melody, it’s excellent lyrics written by a really great songwriter. But so far as the philosophy and the religion, if you will, of the song… it’s not my belief. I’m not making a statement of affirmation in belief of transmigration of souls or any such thing.”
Ego never raised it’s ugly head in “The Highwayman” project. The recording sessions were dominated by a shared comraderie between the four entertainers, a brotherhood beyond the business at hand.
“We never had any problems,” says Waylon. “We don’t think of each other as superstars. There were no ego trips. We’re a lot alike. We’ve all had our starving days, paid our dues. We have a lot of respect for each other. If you don’t record with somebody you like, it ain’t gonna be no good.”
The future of The Highwaymen quartet is undecided at his point, although it’s possible that the four will be making several appearances together throughout the summer. “We can’t decide whose band we want to use,” says Cash, referring to the equally terrific musical line-ups that back each entertainer. The four will appear, however, as the Highwayman on the upcoming coming Country Music Association Awards show in October.
A movie project re-make of the John Ford classic Stagecoach that would star all four in leading roles has also been talked about. “That’s a possibility,” says Cash. Willie, Cash and Kris all have substantial movie acting experience, but Waylon’s film resume is practically bare. ”I don’t get very excited about doing movies,” explains Waylon. “I’m a singer.”
In the meantime, Cash and Kristofferson are pegged to begin production in September on a CBS television movie called The Last Days of Jesse James. (Kris will be Jesse, Johnny will be his brother Frank.)
Individually , the four Highwaymen are currently wrapped up in their separate careers as well as the promotional hoopla surrounding their group LP. Cash’s oslo album for Columbia is finishing production. Willie’s “Half Nelson” LP, also for Columbia, of duets with various artists will be released soon. Waylon’s new “Turn the Page” album on RCA is fresh in the stores this month. Cash and Waylon have also completed a duet album for imminent release and are dicussing a possible Western movie pair-up.
Kristofferson, the only act of the four not currently affiliated with a record label, is staying very busy on the road with his Borlderlords band. A movie called Trouble in Mind, in which he will co-star with Keith Carradine, is scheduled for release around Christmas.
So the Highwaymen continue to ride, separately if not together. And who knows? There’s the prospect of another four-way album. Cash says they’ve got almost enough material in the can from the previous sessions.
Nothing lasts forever, but it certainly seems as if these guys are planning, in some configuration, on being around, and around, and around and around…
On March 3, 1990, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Astrodome, kicking off their first concert tour as the Highwaymen.
On February 15, 1979, Willie Nelson was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Vocal performance, Male, for “Georgia On My Mind”; and Best Country Vocal Duo or Group, with Waylon Jennings, for “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
On February 10, 1986, “The HighwayMan” album, is certified gold for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson
2. The Last Cowboy Song
3. Jim, I Wore A Tie Today
4. Big River
5. Committed To Parkview
6. Desperados Waiting For A Train
7. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)
8. Welfare Line
9. Against The Wind
10. The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over
by: Stephen Betts
Waylon Jennings once famously said he “couldn’t go pop with a mouthful of firecrackers,” yet with an album of previously released material, he did help country music reach a milestone heretofore reserved for pop and rock albums. On this day in 1976, Wanted! The Outlaws, an LP on which Jennings was featured alongside his wife Jessi Colter, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser, became country music’s first platinum-certified LP, signifying sales of one million.
“Their music didn’t conform to the country norm of songs of divorce and alcohol and life’s other miseries,” wrote Chet Flippo in the Wanted! liner notes. At the time, Flippo was New York bureau chief for Rolling Stone. He would become senior editor a year later.
On the original LP, Jennings performed “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” and “Honky Tonk Heroes,” among others, while his wife’s contributions included “You Mean to Say” and a duet with Jennings on the Elvis Presley hit “Suspicious Minds.” Glaser’s 1975 hit “Put Another Log on the Fire” was also included, as was a “live” version of Nelson and Jennings doing “Good Hearted Woman.” The song became a Number One hit for the pair.
Wanted! The Outlaws received a 20th-anniversary CD reissue in 1996 featuring 10 bonus tracks, but it’s those original 11 songs that helped make country music history.
by: Samantha Stephens
The late Waylon Jennings was one of a kind. And let’s admit it. Any of us would be thrilled to own one of the Country Music Hall of Famer’s personal belongings.
If you’re willing to pay what we can assume will be a hefty price, you can make that dream come true this fall.
Jennings’ wife Jessi Colter is at the helm of an auction of some of his most prized possessions to benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Many of the 2,000-plus items up for grabs are nothing short of mind-blowing. The singer counted Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash among his famous friends, and the items up for auction underscore the closeness of those relationships.
At the center of this massive collection is a British-made Ariel Cyclone motorcycle Holly bought in 1958. Jennings gave up his seat to Holly on a private plane that crashed following a 1959 concert. Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper were all killed in the accident in Iowa. Jennings later acquired the motorcycle.
Other items confirmed in the auction are the original signed contract signaling the beginning of the Highwaymen, the supergroup of Jennings, Nelson, Cash and Kristofferson, along with Nelson’s hair braids which — so the story goes — Nelson himself cut off in 1983 to support Jennings’ road to sobriety journey. There’s also Hank Williams Jr”s cowboy boots created by Nudie Cohn, the famous tailor to the stars, and a handwritten letter to Jennings from John Lennon.
Just reading the descriptions of these items makes you wonder what it would’ve been like to be present in those moments, doesn’t it? I probably would have screamed the moment Nelson took scissors to his braids. Have mercy!
Photos, stage wear and awards will also be up for grabs when the auction takes place Oct. 5 at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The auction is being organized by Guernsey’s, a New York city-based auction house.