Shooter Jennings on Dad's Legacy: 'He Doesn't Need Any Help From Me at Keeping It Alive'
Friends and family of the late Waylon Jennings recently came together at the Nashville studios of Sirius/XM for a special taping to promote the Jan. 24 Feb. 7 release of "Waylon: The Music Inside, Volume Two."
The album - the second of a three-part series - features many of Music City's biggest stars paying tribute to the man who gained fame for bucking the Nashville system of doing things in the 1970s. One of those artists is Josh Thompson, who featured a cut on his debut disc titled "Blame It On Waylon." Thompson told Billboard.com how he came to be involved with the project.
"I had always dreamed of doing something that was a tribute to Waylon. Then, Witt (Stewart, the album's producer) called me out of the blue, and said they had one space on the record, and Jessi Colter wanted someone to do a song called 'Love Of The Common People.'"
The song, the flip side to his 1967 top ten "The Chokin' Kind," only peaked at No. 67 on the country singles chart for Jennings, but Thompson feels it's one of his strongest vocal performances. "He really was a great vocalist," Thompson says, also saying "That song was one the Native Americans attached themselves to."
Did Thompson feel any jitters about doing a Waylon tune? "Of course, I felt the spirit of Waylon was there in some respects because many of the members of his band were there," he said, but added that the presence of Colter had a calming effect. "It was Jessi's favorite song, she said, and you could feel a vibe."
Colter, who was married to Jennings from 1969 until his death in 2002, also is featured on the album. She contributes a song that was one of her husband's favorites, "Mama."
"I wrote that song about my mother," she said. "It's a true song. It was the song that started this collection. Whit dug down into an interview that Waylon did where he said that the song had never been heard."
It originally appeared on a Spiritual album that Colter released during the late 1970s. "I was on such a winning streak, and when I did the Spiritual album, they didn't know what to do with it. Although he warned me not to do this album, he said it was going to hurt my career. I'm so glad I did it because my mother died later that year. She was a minister, and a marvelous Spiritual woman, and I had been out of my faith for years. I just wanted to tell how I felt. It meant the world to my mother, so it was worth losing my place in music at the time for my mother to hear this."
Other artists involved with the project include Montgomery Gentry ("Good Ol' Boys"), Hank Williams, Jr. ("Waymore's Blues") and Dierks Bentley ("Lonesome, On'ry and Mean"). Waylon's son Shooter says he was pleased with all of the work of all of the acts who appeared on the album.
"Witt put this together, and he selected a lot of the artists. He came at it with a point of view that had no prejudice. These people loved my dad, and were fans of his. They all did a great job." Jennings didn't play favorites, but did admit that Jewel's version of "Dreaming My Dreams With You" was "Shockingly Beautiful."
Does Shooter feel a responsibility to keep his father's legacy alive? "Don't put that pressure on me," he says, admitting that he really doesn't have to. "I'm really proud of what he's done. The Rolling Stones play 'Bob Willis Is Still The King' at some of their shows. He doesn't need any help from me at keeping it alive. They're doing it."
Jennings said that having Waylon Jennings as a father was different than you might imagine. "As a kid, I got into music my own way, and moved off to L.A. to play in a rock and roll band, so I never did feel that. If anything, I felt support from him - which was kind of rare. I was in a house where my parents cared very much about music, and he was very supportive. He wasn't an outlaw, he was a good dad. It was just a term. It was like 'I'm gonna wear pajamas inside the house. Outside, I'm a derelict," Shooter said, with that classic bit of Jennings irreverence intact.
Track Listing for "Waylon - The Music Inside, Vol. 2"
Lonesome, On'ry and Mean -- Dierks Bentley
Waymore's Blues -- Hank Williams, Jr.
Good Ol' Boys -- Montgomery Gentry
I Ain't Living Long Like This -- Justin Moore
Bob Wills Is Still The King -- Jack Ingram
Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line -- Colt Ford
Rainy Day Woman -- Pat Green
Love Of The Common People -- Josh Thompson
Mama -- Jessi Colter
Dreaming My Dreams With You -- Jewel