Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Waylon Jennings

Good Hearted Woman

Co-written and first recorded by Willie Nelson (1972).
Hit versions by Waylon Jennings (C&W #3 1973), Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson (US #25/MOR #16/C&W #1 1976).
Also recorded by Tina Turner (recorded 1974, released 1979).

From the wiki: “Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson wrote ‘Good Hearted Woman’ in a room at the Fort Worther Motel in Forth Worth, TX, in 1969, inspired by an ad for an Ike & Tina Turner show saying: ‘Tina Turner singing songs about good-hearted women loving good-timing men.’ Jennings started writing the song and asked Nelson to help him finish it during a late-night poker game. By all accounts, Nelson’s contribution was minimal, with his third wife Connie recalling, ‘The only part Willie came up with was ‘Through teardrops and laughter they walk through this world hand in hand.’ Waylon said, ‘That’s it! That’s what’s missing’ and gave Willie half the song.’

“‘Good Hearted Woman’ was first recorded by Willie Nelson in 1972 for his album The Words Don’t Fit the Picture. Later the same year, Jennings recorded the song as the title track of his album Good Hearted Woman. Released as a single in 1973, Jenning’s recording peaked at #3 on Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Singles chart.

“In 1975, Jennings remixed the song, adding vocals from Willie (and adding fake crowd noise to give it a ‘live performance’ feel) for the compilation album Wanted: The Outlaws!. The album cemented the pair’s outlaw image and became country music’s first Platinum album. Re-released as a single, ‘Good Hearted Woman’ peaked at #1 on the Hot Country Singles chart and crossed-over to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #25. The song won the Single of the Year award at the 1976 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards.

“In 1974, unbeknownst to either Jennings or Nelson, Tina Turner recorded the song that was, in part, inspired by her, intending it for her first solo album (while still married to Ike Turner), Tina Turns The Country On. Turner recorded almost twenty songs, all covers by different country artists, but only ten – not including ‘Good Hearted Woman’ – were chosen for the album’s release. The remaining tracks were released for the first time in 1979 on the album Good Hearted Woman in 1979. (After Tina’s mid-1980s comeback, the album was reissued in 1985 by Playback Records under the title Tina Turner Goes Country.) Of the 1985 reissue, Billboard magazine wrote:

‘The history of this album is not elucidated in the liner notes, but whenever and however it was recorded, it links Turner with classics like ‘Lovin’ Him Was Easier’, ‘Good Hearted Woman’, and ‘Stand By Your Man’. Her cornered, yowling style renders complete justice to them all.'”

Waylon Jennings, “Good Hearted Woman” (1973):

Tina Turner, “Good Hearted Woman” (1974):

Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings, “Good Hearted Woman” (1976):

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

Co-written and first recorded by Ed Bruce (C&W #15 1975).
Other hit version by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson (US #42/C&W #1/CAN #1 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ was first recorded in 1975 by Ed Bruce, written by him and wife Patsy Bruce. Bruce’s rendition of the song went to number 15 on the Hot Country Singles charts. Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson covered the song on their 1978 duet album Waylon & Willie. This recording peaked at #1 in March 1978, spending four weeks atop the Country music charts while also crossing-over to the Billboard Hot 100, and won the 1979 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Members of the Western Writers of America chose ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.”

Jolé Blon

First recorded (as “Ma blonde est partie”) by Amede, Ophy & Cleoma Breaux (1929).
Hit version by Red Foley (C&W #1 1947).
Also recorded by Waylon Jennings (1958), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1980), Gary “U.S.” Bonds (1981).

From the wiki: “‘Jolé Blon’ is a traditional Cajun waltz, often called ‘the Cajun national anthem’ because of the popularity it had in Cajun culture’; is considered to be the very first Cajun recording. The song was then later popularized on a nationwide scale by a series of renditions and references in late 1940s country songs. There is some mystery to the song’s origin: According to Cleoma Breaux’s daughter, while Amede Breaux is credited with writing the song, it was his sister, Cleoma, who actually wrote the lyrics and Amede sang the song. Dennis McGee claims the original song was written by Angelas Lejeune as ‘La Fille De La Veuve (The Widows Daughter)’ during WWI and Cleoma simply rewrote the lyrics, allegedly about Amede’s first wife.

It’s So Easy!

First recorded by The Crickets (1958).
Also recorded by Bobby Vee (1963), The Trashmen (1963), Waylon Jennings (1969).
Hit version by Linda Ronstadt (US #5/UK #11/CAN #9 1977).

From the wiki: “‘It’s So Easy!'” was written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty, and first released as a single by Holly under the moniker of his band, The Crickets. The single did not chart.

“Bobby Vee, The Trashmen (‘Surfin’ Bird’), and Waylon Jennings were among the several performers who recorded cover versions of the song before Linda Ronstadt’s 1977 Peter Asher-produced Top-5 single release from Ronstadt’s Simple Dreams album.”

Leather and Lace

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Stevie Nicks with Don Henley (c. 1975).
Hit version by Stevie Nicks & Don Henley (US #6/MOR #10/CAN #12 1981).

From Songfacts, Stevie Nicks recalls: “I wrote this song because Waylon Jennings called me up and asked me to write a song called ‘Leather and Lace.’ It was to be a duet for him and his then-wife (Jessi Colter), and I worked very hard trying to explain what it was like to be in love with someone in the same business, and how to approach dealing with each other. It’s probably the hardest thing in the world to do because it falls out of your hands and into the hands of the world, which tends to want you to not be able to handle it.

Love of the Common People

First released by The Four Preps (1967).
Also recorded by The Everly Brothers (1967), Waylon Jennings (1967), The Gosdin Brothers (1968), The Winstons (1969), John Denver (1969), John Hurley, co-writer (1970).
Hit versions by Nicky Thomas (UK #9 1970), Paul Young (US #45/UK #2/IRE #1/NETH #1 1983).

From the wiki: “‘Love of the Common People’ is a Folk ballad composed by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, eventually released in 1970 on Hurley’s album John Hurley Sings about People, but which was first recorded in January 1967 by The Four Preps in a session arranged and conducted by Leon Russell.

“The song was covered by both the Everly Brothers and Country singer Waylon Jennings in 1967, The Gosdin Brothers (1968), Soul group The Winstons (1969), John Denver (on his 1969 Rhymes & Reason album), Reggae artist Nicky Thomas (1970), Stiff Little Fingers in 1982, and English pop singer Paul Young in 1982 (re-released in 1983).

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