3 Waylon Jennings Deep Cuts Every Country Fan Needs to Hear

When Waylon Jennings passed away in 2002, he left behind a legacy that will outlive even the youngest of his fans. Jennings released 43 studio albums while he was alive starting with Waylon at JD’s in 1964 and ending with Closing in on the Fire in 1998. Collaborations, compilations, and posthumous releases more than double the number of LPs in his already deep discography.

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Jennings had more than 30 top-10 hits and 16 No. 1 singles in the United States. The three songs below were never singles but were just as good as some of the tracks that brought Hoss widespread acclaim.

“Ain’t No God in Mexico”—Pure Outlaw Country

Waylon Jennings began his transition to what would later be called Outlaw Country with his 1972 albums Good Hearted Woman and Ladies Love Outlaws. However, he didn’t fully throw himself into the new sound until the release of Honky Tonk Heroes in 1973.

As Jennings saw it, “Outlaw” didn’t have anything to do with the subject matter of the music. Instead, it was the spirit of the music they were making. Being an outlaw meant following your creative instincts and sticking to your guns. Few people in the genre embodied that more than the Texas-born singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver. Shaver wrote all but one song on Honky Tonk Heroes including “Ain’t No God in Mexico.”

 “Folsom Prison Blues”—Waylon Jennings Covers Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash first released his signature song “Folsom Prison Blues” as a single in 1955. Two years later, he included it on his debut album Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar. Later, he released it on his 1968 live album At Folsom Prison. The live version of the song became a No. 1 hit for Cash.

Later that year, Jennings would include the song on his Chet Atkins-produced album Jewels. Atkins was a staunch proponent of the Nashville Sound and most of Jewels and Jennings’ previous Atkins-produced releases reflect that. However, his cover of this legendary Cash song gave the world a taste of what was coming in just a few short years when he stepped away from the restraints of the Nashville Sound and released Honky Tonk Heroes.

“Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”—Folk Goes Outlaw

Folk singer/songwriter Danny O’Keefe wrote “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues” and The Bards recorded the first version in 1968. Three years later, O’Keefe would release the song on his self-titled debut album. Later, Waylon Jennings recorded it for his 1973 album Lonesome On’ry & Mean.

Jennings’ version retains the same down-trodden outlook of the original. He sings about everyone he knows leaving town, feeling lonely, and feeling lost. However, the twang of Telecasters, crying steel guitar, and a mournful harmonica push the folk song into Outlaw Country territory. At the same time, it shows Jennings’ ability to mold nearly any song to his style.

Featured Image by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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