Waylon Did Dylan in ’65

How humorous to browse a chronological listing of Waylon Jennings albums starting in 1964 – eleven on RCA by my count, following his debut LP At JD’s – when out of nowhere, A&M suddenly decides to issue its first and only album by Jennings, long after his brief run of singles (1963-65) with the label.  Jenning’s country (folk) rock take on Bob Dylan’s “I Don’t Believe You” — originally recorded January 4, 1965 at Phoenix’s Audio Recorders would enjoy release that year as the B-side for “The Real House of the Rising Sun“:

“I Don’t Believe You”     Waylon Jennings     1965

Is it possible that Jennings’s March 25, 1970 appearance on ABC’s wildly successful Johnny Cash Show is what prompted A&M that same year to make a renewed attempt to cash in on their mid-60s recordings of Waylon?

A-side                               B-side

Jennings’ tenure with A&M amounted to four single releases released between the years 1963-65.  Don’t Think Twice — Waylon’s only LP on A&M — would be issued in the US and UK in 1970, four years into his 20-year run with RCA.

Typo alert

Know Your Product!

Examine the album cover above carefully and note that A&M couldn’t even be bothered to transcribe the song title correctly:  “I Didn’t Believe You”!

The Deep-Bottom Sound of Early Waylon Jennings

Jennings, you might recall (though likely not), was the subject of an early Zero to 180 piece that featured his unusually bass-centric take on Bob Gibson’s “Abilene.”

“Abilene”: It’s the Bass

Abilene” was originally an album track on Bob Gibson’s 1957 album, I Come For To Sing:

Bob Gibson - I Come for to Sing - LP cover

The song became a #1 country single for George Hamilton IV in 1963.

The following year Waylon Jennings would also record “Abilene” but release it solely as an album track on his one and only LP for the Bat label, At J.D.’s – check out the unusually deep bottom on this recording:

Abilene – Waylon Jennings

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Abilene” by Waylon Jennings.]

At JD's - Waylon Jennings LP

The “Key City” in Song

In “The Women There Don’t Treat You Mean:  Abilene in Song” – published April 2007 in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly – author Gary Hartman notes “although Gibson’s is the most well-known tune to refer to the Key City, Abilene appears in dozens of other songs performed by a surprisingly diverse group of musicians.  Legendary Texas bluesman Sam ‘Lightnin” Hopkins recorded at least three tunes between 1948 and 1974 in which he sang the praises of Abilene.  Texas honky-tonk pioneer Ernest Tubb recorded ‘Girl from Abilene,’ and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash co-authored the song ‘Wanted Man,’ in which the lead character spends time in Abilene.  The list of artists who pay tribute to Abilene is remarkably long and includes Ian Moore, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen, Eliza Gilkyson, Larry Joe Taylor, and even two British rock bands, Yes and Humble Pie.”

Waylon:  4 Wheels Good, 2 Legs Bad

Kinky Friedman, in his essay on ‘Outlaws’ in The Country Music Pop-Up Book, writes that “Waylon Jennings, at the same time [early 1970s], was sometimes quite literally slugging it out in Nashville.  Like all of us, he struggled against the musical establishment.  One of my first memories of Waylon was on a sunny afternoon as I was walking up an alley behind Music Row, and he drove up in a big Cadillac and a cloud of dust.  He pulled up beside me and lowered the window, and I swear he looked part devil and part smilin’ Jesus. On that day he gave some words to live by that I have never forgotten.  ‘Get in, Kink,’ he said.   ‘Walkin’s bad for your image.'”