Waylon Jennings, “Good Hearted Woman”

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“Good Hearted Woman” is the title cut from Waylon Jennings’ first of two albums for RCA in 1972. The album is often considered to mark the beginning of Jennings’ ostensible outlaw style.

While Jennings had often penned (or co-penned) one or two tracks on each of his records throughout the ‘60s and early ‘70s, he had perhaps seen greater success as an interpreter of other country songwriters’ material, with a notable affinity for Harlan Howard and numerous cuts and an entire album (Waylon Sings Ol’ Harlan, 1967) devoted to the Country Music Hall Of Fame songwriter.

In a recent interview with American Songwriter, Jessi Colter, Jennings’ wife from 1969 until his death in 2002, says it was “Good Hearted Woman” that relaunched Jennings’ faith in his own songwriting. Jennings’ bond with Willie Nelson, who in 1972 was a few years away from his own breakthrough as an artist with Red Headed Stranger, was also instrumental in pushing Jennings’ artistry forward. In our feature story on Jennings (Waylon Jennings: Eternal Outlaw, May/June 2011), Craig Shelburne says it was during a poker game that Jennings first played “Good Hearted Woman” for Nelson, who added the third line of the chorus (“teardrops and laughter”) with typical aplomb. The song would go on to reach #3 on the country music charts in 1972.

In the feature story, Colter tells Shelburne that after Charley Pride asked to record “Good Hearted Woman,” Jennings knew his writing was on the right path. Over the next few years, he followed “Good Hearted Woman” with the self-penned “Rainy Day Woman” (#2, 1974) and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” (#1, 1975).

“Good Hearted Woman”

A long time forgotten the dreams that just fell by the way
The good life he promised ain’t what she’s livin’ today
But she never complains of the bad times
Or the bad things he’s done, Lord
She just talks about the good times they’ve had
And all the good times to come

She’s a good hearted woman in love with a good timin’ man
And she loves him in spite of his ways that she don’t understand
Through teardrops and laughter they pass through this world hand in hand
A good hearted woman, lovin’ a good timin’ man

He likes the bright lights and night life and good timin’ friends
And when the party’s all over she’ll welcome him back home again
Lord knows she don’t understand him but she does the best that she can
This a good hearted woman lovin’ a good timin’ man

She’s a good hearted woman in love with a good timin’ man
She loves me in spite of my wicked ways that she don’t understand
Through teardrops and laughter, they’ll pass through this world hand in hand
A good hearted woman, lovin’ her good timin’ man

Written by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson


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  1. I remember watching VH1 behind the music.
    Waylon Jennings was best friends with Buddy Holly.
    2 nights ago, I saw Willie Nelson at the Backyard in Austin, Tx.
    He was so inspiring and uplifting.
    I think their friendship, Waylon and Willie, changed Austin, Tx forever.
    I never knew who, what and where of the song, until I read your article.
    Thank U 🙂

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