© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Waylon Jennings' Haunting Last Recordings

Waylon Jennings' last recordings, made with his son Shooter, have just been released.
Rusty Russell
Getty Images
Waylon Jennings' last recordings, made with his son Shooter, have just been released.

A stalwart of the outlaw country movement in the 1970s, Waylon Jennings bucked the conventions of Nashville with a tough sound and attitude. He died in 2002, but his son Shooter, now an outlaw country star in his own right, has just released a collection of songs he made with his dad in the mid-'90s — the last recordings Waylon Jennings ever made.

I've always thought of Jennings as something of a ghost. The man famously escaped death in 1959, when he gave up his seat on the plane that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. That night haunted him for the rest of his life, and indeed his voice possessed a haunted quality. Inside Waylon Forever is a photo-booth snapshot of Waylon Jennings with Buddy Holly, a reminder that his career, his contribution to outlaw country music and even his son Shooter all happened on borrowed time.

In 1995, Waylon and Shooter Jennings began recording these tracks, revisiting some of the elder Jennings' hits along with a handful of covers. Shooter was 16 at the time, and no doubt inspired by his legendary dad, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, and whose leather-bound guitar he still plays. But Waylon also found inspiration in the music that was influencing his son as he embarked on his own career. So not only is this Waylon's last CD, but also, in a way, it's Shooter's first. More than a decade after leaving the project unfinished, Shooter brought the tracks to his band, The .357s, whose tough-edged playing reinvigorates Waylon classics.

The album honors the outlaw legacy of Waylon Jennings. Shooter and his band complete the songs with the right combination of Southern rock with a Black Sabbath chaser. Waylon, who loved all kinds of music and even palled around with Metallica, would no doubt approve. But with howling steel guitar and plenty of spooky reverb on the vocals, Waylon Forever does not let you forget that Waylon really is a ghost now — a music legend who never stops reminding us that life is random.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meredith Ochs

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.