Waylon Jennings’ Abbreviations and “Spontaneity” in Live Performances

By Garrett Riggs.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Waylon Jennings’ live performances were often blistering sets of stripped-down honky-tonk music that reflected both his fast-living lifestyle from the 1960s to the 1980s and later, after he was clean, helped retain his image as the tough-talking take-no-shit-from-nobody outlaw. When comparing live recordings and concert footage to his studio albums and lyric sheets, there is a discernible pattern wherein Jennings regularly cuts off the last verse of a song, sometimes substituting an extra chorus, but just as often heading into a crescendo of him and the Waylors trading licks. While there may be some truth to the idea that a performer tires of “greatest hits” material and longs for a different kind of engagement with the audience, there is evidence that Jennings’ editing of the songs was purposeful because it is consistent in several performances of the same song in a variety of settings over a course of three decades and the “spontaneous” moments are often repeated so as to appear rehearsed to a viewer or listener who takes in more than one of his “live” performances. For all of his efforts to remain a simple working-class guy who happened to make good, Jennings was an astute and sophisticated performer well aware of his audience and its expectations of him.

Keywords: Waylon Jennings, Live Performance, Country Music, Manuscripts, Video, Popular Culture, Sexuality

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 7, pp.173-182. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.608KB).

Dr. Garrett Riggs

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

G.R. Riggs is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. Riggs studied creative writing under the tutelage of Page Edwards Jr., Richard Yates, Virgil Suarez, Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Robert Olen Butler. Riggs’ short fiction has appeared in the “Tampa Review.” Riggs spent nearly a decade as a journalist, writing and designing for papers all around Florida. In addition to many features and columns, Riggs has done profiles of musician Merle Haggard and filmmaker Mohammad Bakri. Riggs is working on a biography of Waylon Jennings.


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