15 years gone: Remembering Waylon Jennings

Country music legend Waylon Jennings died 15 years ago this week following a long battle with diabetes-related ailments.

These days, his legacy might often fall under the shadow of his longtime friend Willie Nelson, but it should not be that way. His fierce musical independence deserves its own spotlight — whether you remember him as the critically acclaimed young Nashville rebel who spurred change on Music Row, the cocaine-fueled outlaw who swaggered through the mid-to-late ’70s, or the reflective family man who emerged in the 1980s (even making an appearance in the Sesame Street movie “Follow That Bird”).

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings at KLRU studio during the taping of the Willie Nelson 60th birthday special in 1993. Photo by Sung Park, American-Statesman

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings at KLRU studio during the taping of the Willie Nelson 60th birthday special in 1993. Photo by Sung Park, American-Statesman

Here are five quotes from his 1996 autobiography, “Waylon” …

ON GROWING UP IN LITTLEFIELD, TEXAS: “It’s so flat your dog could rn off and you could watch him go for three days. They say you can stand in Littlefield and count the people in Levelland, twenty miles away.”

ON LIVING WITH JOHNNY CASH: “It was like a sitcom; we were the original Odd Couple. I was supposed to clean up, and John was the one doing the cooking. If I’d be in one room polishing, he’d be in the other making a mess. Making himself a mess.”

ON HARD LIVING: “I took pills by the fitful. I’d start with a Desoxyn or two, and some little White Crosses, and wash the whole mess down with an Alka-Seltzer to kick it in the ass. … I knew they would kill some people, but they didn’t kill me. I thought I was invincible.”

ON HIS FIRST FOURTH OF JULY PICNIC WITH WILLIE: “Nobody has a clue about what they’re doing, when they’re going on, who’s in charge. Nobody can figure how to control it. Nobody wants to. Somebody steals the money and we don’t get paid. But there, right as rain, is Willie, beaming up at me. He knows it is the beginning of something. ‘We hot, ain’t we?’ he says.”

ON SOBERING UP AND FAMILY: “I was sitting with Shooter in a restaurant booth. He was on the inside, and he got his coloring book out. He was all of five years old. He put his left arm through my right, and we sat there for about an hour while he colored. Shooter hand’t ever done that before. I’d never been able to sit so still for so long with him. I wasn’t about to move my arm.”

Waylon Jennings in 1976. American-Statesman file photo

Waylon Jennings in 1976. American-Statesman file photo

And just for good measure …

 


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