Even after the "outlaw" movement faded--to the relief of Jennings, who felt like a prisoner of his image--he continued to record, with mixed success. Sadly, as with so many other veteran country artists, record companies and radio stations cast him aside. (Worse, after Waylon was published, health problems kept him from touring and recording as much as he wanted.) But his music--and his legend--lives on.
Waylon is an entertaining and thought-provoking read, with many candid (and sometimes surprising) opinions about his life and his line of work. Even his closest confidant and musical collaborator, Willie Nelson, is called out for attending the CMA awards, long boycotted by Jennings, after promising not to. And Waylon's political and even religious views may surprise readers who assume all country performers fit some Christian-right template.
Jennings's wife achieved success right out of the gate with "I'm Not Lisa" and his reaction says a lot about the man:
I never had a pop hit, at least on the Top Forty. For a while, in the early seventies, my favorite phrase was "I couldn't go pop with a mouthful of firecrackers."
People would ask me how I felt about "I'm Not Lisa" going gold. Did I mind?
Mind? Jessi was so happy, getting checks and buying presents for everybody she loves. For me, she put the down payment on our house, Southern Comfort.
But they'd continue: You've been struggling all these years, and here comes Jessi, first album, no reputation, and she has a million-selling record right out of the gate.
"Being a fuckin' legend," I'd have to say, "I don't give a shit."