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Waylon Jennings’ Family to Release His Last Recordings

Waylon Jennings

February 13 marked the tenth anniversary of Waylon Jennings’ death. In honor of his legacy, his family is releasing the songs Waylon recorded shortly before his death, reports the AP via the Seattle PI. At least eight of the 12 songs on the album, tentatively titled Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Final Recordings, were written by Waylon and eight have never been released. The vocal and guitar tracks were cut before his death and musicians who worked with Waylon came together to finish them.

The album is part several projects the Jennings family has planned to honor Waylon. Son Shooter Jennings plans to launch a clothing line, a redesigned community-based website and finalize plans for a biopic. In addition, the second part of a three-part tribute, Waylon: The Music Inside, was released last week featuring songs from Hank Williams Jr., Dierks Bentley, and Jewel. Read our review >>

“February 13th will be 10 years since he died and I do feel like it’s time for him to have a presence,” Shooter said. “It should have been before, but I don’t think anybody was ready to take it on. I certainly wasn’t. I know this year we’re about to bring him back, you know what I mean?”

Waylon left behind a legacy of being an outlaw, fighting for his artistic freedom alongside fellow outlaw artists Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. The four toured together as The Highwaymen. Waylon was unwilling to bend to the will of record labels, holding out for a better contract that would let him record his way.

“It’s the curse of the trailblazer to have the highest walls, the hardest knocks,” his widow Jessi Colter said. “His choices were different. His offers were different. His story is yet to be told. And I actually have confidence that it will be.”

The new album will include songwriter Tony Joe White’s “Goin’ Down Rockin’” and Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs & Waltzes.” According to Shooter, the songs, originally recorded in steel guitarist Robby Turner’s studio, have interesting interpretations. The family isn’t releasing many details of the potential biopic, but they say it will be different from those done about other artists.

“The way it will happen with him won’t be like any of the others,” Jessi said. “He didn’t like those. In fact, when he saw The Buddy Holly Story, he just cringed because they didn’t begin to get his character.” [Before Waylon's success as a solo artist, he was Buddy Holly's bass player.]

Shooter Jennings was just 22 when his father died. At first, he didn’t have any interest in preserving his father’s legacy. As he’s gotten older, he’s come to appreciate his father’s place in music history.

“A lot of it is maybe where I am in my life, with my kids and everything,” he said. “I’m at a place where I really appreciate my dad and I really appreciate his part of my life and my kids knowing who he is even though he’d never met them. I felt like I’d grown into a place where it was time for me to take over getting his name back out there in the right way.”

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