Rare Waylon Jennings Recordings Released
Rare recordings from Waylon Jennings' stint as a radio show host on Littlefield, Texas, station KZZN have been released.
Titled Waylon 55 Live, the album contains pieces of the 18-year-old aspiring singer's shows, during which he performed and conversed with local musicians. The reel-to-reel recording had been buried under the bed of one of Jennings' siblings, and when it was discovered, it was given to his son, Shooter Jennings, who released it on vinyl, through his Black Country Rock label, in honor of Record Store Day 2015.
"It's very strange to hear this captured moment in time so early in his life," Shooter Jennings tells Rolling Stone Country. "It's pretty historical. He's 18 and fired up about everything, and his voice is exactly the same as it was in '58. It has the same tone to it. If someone played that for me, I could have easily thought it was 1965."
The country legend's son admits that he is amazed at the talent his father showed during the taping, even at such a young age.
"He's hosting the show, getting each guy to play, pulling all this weight, and he was going for it," he adds. "He knew how to move the show along."
The recording also touched Jessi Colter, Waylon Jennings' widow.
"When I heard this, I loved it," she notes. "I had recently been to the Buddy Holly Museum, and there is the only recording I had ever heard of Buddy talking to Decca, trying to get his songs back, and his voice sounded so West Texas, just like Waylon's. There was a sound of that part of the country, the way they talked."
The mother and son have also revealed that they are working on a film adaptation of the country music legend's life and career.
"Nowadays, you have so many artists who are so revered as the next thing and the champion of real country music," Shooter Jennings explains. "In the public eye, they act like they're so cool ... and it's a little phony because they want to act like they think Waylon Jennings acted. So they act kind of tough and dark and mysterious, and they might snap and be an asshole or something. But that's not the way he was. If you listen to this recording, there is nothing fake and cool about it. He's not acting like he's the next big thing ...
"It's proof of how authentic he was," Jennings continues. "He cared so much about music that he was like a little kid. I look at guys now, and I see the way they are on stage and just laugh, 'cause they miss it completely. It had nothing to do with being cool."
Adds Colter, "He's always been a dark horse. When Waylon went to Nashville, they were taking a racehorse and treating him like a mule. That's what Nashville does. Nashville is a nut you don't ever crack. Right now, there is a lot of foreign money in there and a lot of machines that make everybody sound really good. Photo ops."
Colter hopes that a film will help her late husband earn the credit he deserves.
"[Waylon's] story is yet to be recognized," she says. "He was the long shot, the dark horse, and the odds were against him. But, boy, did he have what it took to run the race.
"There was something between the audience and him that I miss terribly," Colter concludes. "He still stands as an example of loving music, pursuing it and not giving up."
Waylon 55 Live is available for purchase on Black Country Rock's website. Hear one of its tracks, "Slippin' and Slidin'," below.
Listen to Waylon Jennings, "Slippin' and Slidin'":
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