Waylon Jennings Robin Grayden - Essay

Robin Grayden

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

For several years or so Waylon Jennings has been spearheading the so-called Nashville "rebel" movement, and, along with such artists as Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser, has kicked all the old country music traditions out of the back door and opted for a "new wave" stance, combining country music with rock.

But ol' Waylon is in danger of falling between two stools. Strictly speaking, ["Ol' Waylon"] is not an album by a country singer. It's aimed at the rock audience, and yet I can't really see it appealing to that market either….

The album has a concept of sorts—the theme, as expressed by the ["Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)"] track, is getting back to the basics, to the simple ways. Laudable sentiments, but the majority of tracks are not strong enough to retain attention for this message to be conveyed. Generally, the album lacks the impact of his earlier records like the superb "Only the Greatest" and "The Taker/Tulsa," which were full of good tunes.

And that's the crux of the matter. Jennings seems to have difficulty in coming up with enough strong songs to make one strong album. "Ol' Waylon" sags in too many places….

He seems to have dried up, both as a song-penner and song-picker.

Waylon has got the fire, he just needs the right kind of coal. A disappointing album.

Robin Grayden, "Waning Waylon," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), July 9, 1977, p. 23.