2017 CD-DVD REVIEW
CELEBRATING THE MUSIC OF WAYLON JENNINGS (SONY-LEGACY)
OUTLAWS DID IT THIS WAY
NOW AND BACK THEN
“Lord it's the same old tune, fiddle and guitar/ where do we take it from here?/ rhinestone suits and new shiny cars/ it's been the same way for years/ we need a change/ somebody told me, when I came to Nashville/ "Son, you finally got it made"/ old Hank made it here, and we're all sure that you will/ but I don't think Hank done it this way/ no I don't think Hank done it this way.” - Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way - Waylon Jennings.
It seems fitting that Bobby Bare's 38th album Things Change was launched shortly after this celebration of the late Waylon Jennings in a live 2015 Austin concert CD with bonus DVD.
Bare, now 82, persuaded his late producer Chet Atkins to sign Waylon and allow artists to buck the Nashville session system and use their own musicians in studio recordings in the early seventies.
Bare kicked the door wide open as he led Waylon, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Tompall Glaser, David Allan Coe, Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Colter, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Paycheck, late Playboy cartoonist Shel Silverstein, singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman and others in the outlaw posse that changed the face and sound of the genre.
So it's no surprise that Bare performs Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line on the disc that is kicked off by nouveau outlaw and Billboard chart-topper Chris Stapleton and singing spouse Morgane on Rodney Crowell classic I Ain't Living Like This.
Waylon died at 64 on February 13, 2002, and salient sequencing finds Waylon's son Shooter delivering a raunchy rendition of Shel's Whistlers And Jugglers before his mum Jessi Colter's evocative Mona .
Fellow Texan Lee Ann Womack is the perfect vehicle to drive Shaver's Ride Me Down Easy that segues into her duet with Buddy Miller on Harlan Howard tune Yours Love.
Miller shares guitar duties in the house band with Patrick Buchanan and bassist Don Was who doubles up as music director with producer Buddy Cannon.
Even the ballads have a unique dynamic with Mickey Raphael's harmonica, Robbie Turner's pedal steel and Matt Rollings keyboards and accordion driven by the punch of dual drummers Richie Albright and Raymond Webber.
It's advisable to watch the concert DVD to fully absorb the atmosphere of this memorable concert with trio backing vocals by Kari Kimmel, Carmel Echols and Sara Mann.
Sturgill Simpson revives Memories Of You And I penned by Lee Clayton who also wrote Ladies Love Outlaws - a 1972 hit for Waylon and album title track.
Another Texan young gun Kacey Musgraves, 28, is joined by Misa Arriaga on their faithful rendition of The Wurlitzer Prize - penned by Bobby Gene Emmons and Chips Moman who collaborated on the Willie full ensemble album finale Luckenbach, Texas, (Back to The Basics Of Love.)
Acclaimed Alabama outlaw Jamey Johnson revamps Bill Hoover's Freedom To Stay before Texans Robert Earl Keen and Rich Brotherton kick-start Waylon penned biographical belter Are You Sure Hank Did It This Way ?
Fellow Highwayman and singing actor and Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson and New Mexico rodeo refugee Ryan Bingham perform a pair of Waylon originals I Do Believe and Rainy Day Woman .
Kristofferson is restrained and earthy and Bingham a bucking beauty, you might say.
Ironically Jessi was born Mirriam Johnson in Phoenix, Arizona, to a Pentecostal preacher mum and racing car driver dad and became a church pianist at 11.
She wrote songs including I Ain't The One and Mona as Mirriam Eddy while wed to guitar hero Duane Eddy from 1961-1968.
Her songs were recorded by Don Gibson, Nancy Sinatra, and Dottie West.
But after her divorce from Duane and marriage to Waylon in 1969 she recorded and performed as Jessi Colter in honour of her great grandfather, Jesse Colter.
Jessi and Duane have a daughter Jennifer who, of course, is much older than son Shooter, 38, sired by Waylon.
That concludes the bloodstock breeding - we have no need to name Waylon's three previous wives and seven children.
HONKY TONK HEROES ON HIGHWAY 31
“Them neon light nights, couldn't stay out of fights/ keep a-haunting me in memories/ well is one in every crowd for crying out loud/ why was it always turning out to be me?/ where does it go, the good Lord only knows/ seems like it was just the other day/ I was down at Green Gables, hawking them tables/ and generally blowing all my hard earned pay.” - Honky Tonk Heroes - Billy Joe Shaver.
Oklahoma star Toby Keith and writing sidekick Scotty Emerick are paired on Honky Tonk Heroes – the title track of Waylon's 1973 album that featured all songs penned by Shaver except We Had It All by Troy Seals and Donnie Fritts.
Scotty's many hits include the Keith-Willie Nelson duet on the title track of the 2003 movie Beer For My Horses - it earned Willie the honour of being the oldest country artist to top the charts at 70.
Waylon's death had a profound impact on many peers - especially Shaver, now 77, who was touring Australia at the time with Kinky Friedman.
Your diarist shared chauffeurial duties with Ringwood promoter Rob Hall in twin Tarago touring vans.
We were heading north on Highway 31 from Melbourne to an Albury Valentine's Day gig when Shaver heard the news just south of Benalla.
So we pulled into a truck stop at Baddaginnie to enable the Texan tourists and band to process Waylon's shock diabetes death news.
It's perhaps ironic the next song is another nouveau outlaw Eric Church performing Waylon 1973 album title track Lonesome On'ry And Mean penned by Steve Young who died at 73 on March 17, 2016.
Your diarist also had a minor role of chauffeur on Young's first Australian tour when he spent a night relaxing on the banks of the Hopkins River on the Shipwreck Coast at Warrnambool before a gig in Ballarat.
Young tempted driver to stop the car en route to Ballarat in Snake Valley where he hoped to find a support cast of rattlers favoured by preachers back in his native Georgia.
Instead we proceeded to the Camp Hotel where the audience was enriched by the appearance of his Honour - County Court Judge John Bowman - who was on circuit in the gold mining mecca of days of yore.
Meanwhile back at the concert Willie slows the tempo for his treatment of Crowell's Till I Gain Control Again .
Willie and Toby Keith revive the Patsy Bruce classic Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys before Willie is joined by Stapleton on Sharon Vaughn sibling song My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys .
Sturgill Simpson is Willie's partner on the Waylon and Willie composition I Can Get Off On You but it's a larger cast of Willie, Kristofferson, Shooter Jennings and Johnson on the Jimmy Webb classic Highwayman and Luckenbach .
OK that's a roll call of the writers and performers.
What about a critique?
Well, the artists were well chosen for their celebration at the Moody Theatre in Austin on July 6, 2015.
It's a shame Billy Joe Shaver wasn't among the cast but he has also suffered serious health issues in recent times and it was just two days after Willie's 42nd July 4 picnic.
BOBBY BARES ALL ON DVD EXTRAS
The rest, of course, his history but both Waylon and Willie's careers soared when they later quit Nashville for Texas and were reborn as creators of the Outlaw music movement.
Jessi Colter revealed her enduring love of singing spouse Waylon for his talent, sincerity and loyalty.
Their son Shooter elaborated on his memories of his second trip to Australia with The Highwaymen when he was 10 and the camaraderie on tour between the children of the superstar quartet.
Kristofferson traces his admiration for Jennings to when the Rhodes Scholar and singing actor cleaned ash trays as a janitor in his early days in Nashville recording studios.
Other memorable anecdotes include the Stapleton and Johnson families introducing their progeny to Waylon's music on vinyl and Toby Keith first hearing Jennings music in his grandmother's Oklahoma night club.
Equally important was Alison Krauss recalling her embryonic concert as a 15 year-old at the famed Station Inn , Nashville.
She credited Waylon and Jessi giving her a standing ovation and then following it up with personal encouragement in a visit to her dressing room.
That don't sound like the behaviour of an outlaw couple to me.