Waylon Jennings The Lost Nashville Sessions
Waylon Jennings is one of those rare artists who can truly be called a musical icon. He was part of a music genre dubbed ‘Outlaw Country’ and was linked with other artists such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson who rebelled against the mainstream “Nashville Sound.”
The pinnacle of Jennings’ output of “Outlaw Country” (1972’s “Ladies Love Outlaws” album) was still a couple of years away when he entered the studio at Scotty Moore’s Music City Recorders on July 13, 1970 and recorded the tracks that appear on this album. Amazingly, these tracks have never before been commercially released. This album represents a piece of history that might easily have been lost forever if the master tapes had not been found and dusted off by Country Rewind Records president, Thomas Gramuglia.
The recordings were made for a series of recruitment radio programs. Each 15-minute show featured a popular country artist singing three or four songs and talking to the show’s host. The shows were designed to encourage recruitment and were distributed on vinyl discs to approximately 2,000 radio stations strictly for promotional purposes. Now, 46 years later, we can at last hear Jennings on these rare, rescued recordings. The tracks were entrusted to Grammy Award winning producer and musician Robby Turner to enhance the recordings and add his unique skills, bringing the audio quality to the highest standards of the twenty-first century. Turner has a personal connection with Waylon ‘Hoss’ Jennings with whom he toured and played for many years. (In fact, in 2002, Jennings went into Robby’s Turner-Up studio in Nashville with an acoustic guitar to make what was to be his final album.)
Turner enjoyed some “real special moments” working on these newly-discovered original tracks. “Moments that reminded me how blessed I was to work with and become great friends with this iconic figure in American music,” he said. “How he paved the road for many artists to keep creative freedom in the way they made records. Artists that have had any say in the way they record owe a big part to Waylon.” Co-project contributor Paul Martin was tasked with replacing all the bass guitar parts on all the songs. (Martin and his wife Jamie also added background vocals to most of the songs.)
“We had to revisit the bass guitar, because this live recording was done in a rapid-fire one-hour session, all musicians in the studio “going for it” with no stops and no fixes,” noted Martin. “Unfortunately, if a bass player makes any mistakes, you can REALLY hear them! I used a special Equalizer and filtered out the bass guitar in all the songs, and was then able to fix any mistakes.
This fix gave Martin another issue to deal with. “Filtering out the bass guitar and “low end” of the recordings means that the bass drum on these recordings also got filtered out,” he explained. “After the bass guitar was fixed, I had to mic up my drum kit and play the kick drum parts again. Waylon’s longtime drummer, Richie Albright, played on these recordings, and he really had a very cool, somewhat ‘over the top’ style of drumming that gave the music a real drive and cool personality. So replacing his bass drum parts was no easy feat; I had to really match his intensity on the top of his drum parts.”
Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter and their son Shooter Jennings have given their blessings and permission for the project. Jessi Colter, a recording artist in her own right, remembers him with affection. “First of all, I feel he was one of the greatest interpreters of song in our generation,” she has been quoted as saying. “I loved him! He really entertained me. He made me laugh. He made me feel loved. He inspired me.”
“He is missed,” she added. “There will never be another one like him. He gave me a great life and so many people so many hours of happiness. He played for the people.”
Many of the musicians who played alongside Jennings have fond memories of working with him, too. Guitarist and steel player Fred Newell toured with Jennings in the 1990s. After Jennings passed away, Newell and other members of the band formed Waymore’s Outlaws, keeping Jennings’ memory and songs alive, often performing with Waylon’s son, Shooter Jennings.
“Waylon downplayed his own guitar playing, but he was a pretty darn good guitarist,” recalled Newell. “He wasn’t one of those ‘you’d better get every note exactly right’ kind of guys. I think I only ever saw him come to one sound check. He trusted his band. If you did something he really liked, he’d turn around and applaud you on stage.”
Fans of Waylon Jennings will be applauding too, as they listen to this collection of songs that showcase him at the height of his musical creativity.
Working on the project made Robby Turner feel connected again to a man he loved as a part of his family. “He was a great boss,” Turner recalled. “But he was also a friend, a father figure and a musical brother, along with being a legend and an icon in music.”
Liner notes by: Preshias Harris
– Country Rewind Records