Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy birthday to the “Ramblin’ Man”!

Though he once made the hamlet of Luckenbach, Texas famous through a #1 hit country song, Waylon Arnold Jennings was actually born in Littlefield seventy-three years ago on this date. Had he not switched places with J.P. Richardson (“The Big Bopper”) for an airplane seat during a fateful night on February 3, 1959—country music fans might have never even known who Waylon was, as he was just a bass player for Buddy Holly’s group the Crickets on “the day the music died.”

But in 1965, with a cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s (That’s What You Get) For Loving Me, Jennings scored his first Top Ten hit on the country charts—and would follow that with forty-one additional Top Ten smashes (including duets), eight of which went to #1 including This Time, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way, I’ve Always Been Crazy and Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (with Willie Nelson). At the time Waylon was bucking the Nashville establishment with what would later be known as “the outlaw movement,” he was also making inroads into motion pictures with appearances in films like Nashville Rebel (1966), The Road to Nashville (1967) and Moonrunners (1975). After achieving television immortality as the narrator/balladeer for the hit television series The Dukes of Hazzard, Jennings continued appearing in films like Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird (1985), Maverick (1994)…and a 1986 TV-remake of the John Ford/John Wayne classic Stagecoach that also featured Willie Nelson, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Kris Kristofferson, John Schneider, David Allan Coe and wife Jessi Colter. (As much as I admire the people in this movie…for the love of Mike, don’t go out of your way to watch it if you haven’t seen it. I’ll say no more.)

To this day, the only song recorded by Waylon that I cannot and will not listen to is his famous theme song for The Dukes of Hazzard—and the reason for is because this song took off on the charts about the time I became a D.J. at our local station in my hometown of Ravenswood, WV and I used to get inundated with calls from pesky little kid-like twerps wanting to hear me play it…over and over and over ad infinitum. (I harbor the same resentment for the Oak Ridge Boys’ Elvira.) Waylon Jennings left this world for a better one in 2002, but he lives on in the jukebox I jokingly refer to as my desktop computer…and here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

YouTube offers a virtual treasure trove of Waylon classics—and after a long deliberation I decided to go with one of my particular favorites (and unofficial anthems)—Never Could Toe the Mark:

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Jeff Overturf said...

One of the greats.

VP81955 said...

Peter, Paul & Mary may have had the big hit with "For Lovin' Me," but Gordon Lightfoot also had a hit with it, and I'm pretty certain he wrote it, too. (AM 740 out of Toronto plays a lot of Lightfoot -- you know, Canadian content and such -- but it includes a lot of his '60s stuff that largely went unheard among U.S. audiences, and for the most part it's excellent.)

Mo said...

Waylon was, is and always will be KICK AZZ! For a great ballad by Waylon, try "The House Song". It's on youtube as well. Waylon has such a great voice. R.I.P Hoss!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Peter, Paul & Mary may have had the big hit with "For Lovin' Me," but Gordon Lightfoot also had a hit with it, and I'm pretty certain he wrote it, too.

Once upon a time, I knew that Gordon Lightfoot wrote For Lovin' Me...but I'm getting older, and that information just doesn't come to the ready as it once did. I mean no slight toward Gord--I would probably refer to "Marty Robbins' Ribbon of Darkness" or "Anne Murray's Cotton Jenny" in the same manner. Now, if someone did covers of If You Could Read My Mind or Carefree Highway, Lightfoot would most assuredly get all the credit.

Besides, Gord also did The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald--tell me he's not gonna do a stretch in Music Purgatory for that little infraction.