Waylon Jennings Never Liked Having His Name Mentioned in This 1977 Hit

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boys Waylon Jennings sings on “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).” Released on Jennings’ 1977 album Ol’ Waylon, the song also references Hank Williams, Jerry Jeff Walker, Mickey Newbury, and Willie Nelson‘s 1975 song “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Nelson also sings along with Jennings on the final refrain of the chorus:

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
Willie and Waylon and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’s got us feudin’
Like the Hatfield and McCoys
Between Hank Williams’ pain songs
And Jerry Jeff’s train songs and “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain”
Out in Luckenbach, Texas, there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain

Though “Luckenbach, Texas” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was Jennings’ first crossover hit, peaking at No. 25 on the 200, he never liked the song since he was mentioned in it.

“I knew it was a hit song, even though I didn’t like it—and still don’t,” said Jennings in his 1996 autobiography.

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: The Drug Bust That Made Waylon Jennings Write “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand”]

Population of Three

Songwriters Bobby Emmons and Chips Moman initially approached Jennings with the song since he was mentioned in the slow-driven ballad, which tells the story of a simpler way of life.

Founded in 1849, Luckenbach was near disappearing before writer and rancher Hondo Crouch (1916-1976) bought the community in 1971. As the self-proclaimed Mayor of Luckenbach, Crouch established the motto “Everybody is Somebody in Luckenbach” for the town with little more than a standing dance hall and a general store.

Before Jennings released “Luckenbach, Texas,” Walker also recorded his 1973 album ¡Viva Terlingua! inside the town dance hall. Under Crouch’s governance, the town also hosted the Women’s Chili Cookoff and the first Luckenbach World’s Fair, which featured a surprise appearance by Nelson.

American singer, songwriter, and musician Waylon Jennings (1937 – 2002), performing on October 14, 1983. (Photo by John Minihan/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Within Emmons’ and Moman’s lyrics, “Luckenbach, Texas” moves through the story of a couple whose high society lifestyle becomes complicated like the Hatfields and McCoys before they dial back on the strains of big living and relocate to Luckenbach.

The only two things in life that make it worth livin’
Is guitars that tune good and firm feelin’ women
I don’t need my name in the marquee lights
I got my song and I got you with me tonight
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love

So baby, let’s sell your diamond ring
Buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society, you cry all-day
We’ve been so busy keepin’ up with the Jones
Four-car garage and we’re still building on
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love

When the song was recorded, Emmons, Moman, and Jennings had never visited the near-ghost town in central Texas, which has a total population of 3 (as of 2024) and is still owned by Crouch’s family.

In 1997, Jennings finally visited Luckenbach three decades after releasing the song where he performed during Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic.

“He had never been [to Luckenbach] when he sang it, for sure,” said Jennings’ son Shooter Jennings. “If Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons had never written that song, who knows what that town would be today, or if it would even be there.”

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Criticizes Streaming Platforms for "Mortally" Wounding Artists

Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Criticizes Streaming Platforms for “Mortally” Wounding Artists Not Named Drake