|The Highwaymen – Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson|
One of my good friends, Kathy Jennings, is the daughter-in-law of Waylon Jennings. We met a couple of years ago while I was on a visit in Nashville. Kathy and her husband, Buddy, saw that I had a unique Waylon shirt on and asked about it. We got to talking and I realized who they were after I remember a couple of our mutual friends talking about them. Needless to say, they have always been so kind to me over the years.
Recently, Luke Bryan was asked about outlaw country music (read interview here from Hits Daily Double) and his response was, “Well, yeah. I think that people who want Merle, Willie and Waylon just need to buy Merle, Willie and Waylon. I’ve never been a “Those were the good old days” kind of guy. I’m not big on looking back on the past. I’m not an outlaw country singer. I don’t do cocaine and run around. So I’m not going to sing outlaw country. I like to hunt, fish, ride around on my farm, build a big bonfire and drink some beers—and that’s what I sing about. It’s what I know. I don’t know about laying in the gutter, strung out on drugs. I don’t really want to do that.”
Needless to say, his quote set off a firestorm among fans, many angered at his statements. He wouldn’t be the first to somewhat disown the legends of country music – Blake Shelton would do so a few years ago, but soon apologized. One memorable apology was that to the great Ray Price. Luke’s apology was only via Twitter and who knows if it was truly him or his social media people. He has not spoken about the interview beyond Twitter.
One of the people that was angered was Kathy Jennings. Below is her strong personal message to Luke Bryan, as well as a video that she recorded.
I will add that the songs of Waylon, Merle, Willie, Jessi Colter, and many others last the test of time. I can’t help but think of Ray Price (granted, he wasn’t an outlaw per say), whose song “Crazy Arms” landed on the charts for 45 weeks, with 20 of those weeks in the number one spot. Those men and women didn’t require 3+ songwriters to write the same song by different singers about how beautiful the skinny blonde tan legged cut off jeans wearing chick drinking fireball whiskey on the back of a pickup truck in the moonlight…
Something else to note: “Waylon Jennings – An Intimate Portrait of an Outlaw” is a movie that is being produced by Waylon’s son, Buddy Jennings, alongside his wife, Kathy, and friend Larry Sands. Fans can go to www.waylondoc.com for complete details. It is set for a late 2015/early 2016 release. This documentary is a raw look into how the rise of a small town Texas dreamer became one of the most influential country music singers in the history of music. It tracks Waylon from his very poor beginnings in Littlefield, Texas growing up with his brothers; picking cotton and his guitar, to befriending and playing with Buddy Holly and his move to Phoenix that shot him to fame.
Letter from Kathy Jennings to Luke Bryan:
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.