Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings

The first thing you hear is an electric guitar with a three-pack-a-day rasp, Duane Eddying its way through a twangy hook; the bass string – fretted at F – rings out, barking against the rest of the riff as it chases its tail to resolution. Another pass through and here comes the snap of the snare and the bawoop of the bass falling into position with a second six-string chugging out the rhythm as the lead guitar twangorams its way to a big open chord to end the intro.

Omnivore Recordings

Omnivore Recordings

And then comes the voice – that voice:

A hundred lists of reasons I keep ‘round
Why I never had a family
Why I never settled down
Why I’d sooner in the mirror see a hobo lookin’ low
But the reasons now escape me as I walk the iron road

And there’s no question about who that is, boys and girls: that’s ol’ Hoss hisself, Waylon Jennings – lost to us all back in February of 2002, but live and powerful here on “Iron Road” – one of two tracks recently unearthed from the vaults of the Old 97’s.

The backstory is a cool one that could have come right out of the pages of Head Neck Outlaw Country Comix, if there ever had been such a thing: young alt-country band (that would be the Old 97’s) plays a radio convention as they await the release of their debut album back in 1996; one of their heroes (that would be Waylon) is sitting in the front row during their gig – which blows the collective minds of the young band. Soon after said gig, the old hero brags up the young band to a big-league newspaper (that would be the Austin Chronicle), which doesn’t hurt their cause one bit. The band writes their hero a letter of thanks, summoning up the courage to add that if he ever wanted to make some music together …

Ol' Hoss and the boys in the studio (Photo from North Folk Sound)

Ol’ Hoss and the boys in the studio (Photo from North Folk Sound)

Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings is a six-tune EP that offers up the results of an historic sitdown in a Nashville studio back in 1996 between Jennings and the Old 97’s (guitarist/vocalist Rhett Miller, guitarist Ken Bethea, Murray Hammond on bass and vocals, Philip Peeples on drums). To be clear, only the two opening cuts are from the multi-generational outlaw country summit – but the remaining four demos will tickle both newcomers to the world of the Old 97’s and longtime riders alike.

Don’t stop now! Click HERE to read the rest of my review of the Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings on Jambands.com

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