Requiem for an Outlaw

Waylon Jennings bucked the Nashville system, and became a legend in the process

None of which would've surprised the regulars at JD's. Indeed, covers of Dylan's "Girl From the North Country" and "It Ain't Me, Babe" are among the highlights of The Restless Kid -- Live at JD's (Bear Family Records), an austere but fascinating CD of Jennings wowing the locals circa 1964.

There's a lot of Arizona in Waylon Jennings. He writes in his autobiography of getting his first record company check, from A&M, while living in an apartment on 36th Street north of McDowell. He remembers making enough money to move into his first nice home, a house on Amelia off Indian School Road in Scottsdale. Jennings first met Willie Nelson not in Luckenbach, Texas, but at the Adams Hotel in downtown Phoenix, when Nelson came through town for a mid-'60s show at the Riverside Ballroom. And in 1984, Jennings finally kicked drugs, cold, after an extended stay at a friend's desert home near Tatum Boulevard in Paradise Valley.

"You had better respect the desert," Jennings wrote in his autobiography, "because the desert leaves it up to you. It's not going to help. It's going to leave you totally alone, to see if you can find the strength within yourself to survive. There are no distractions. You can't outfox the desert. You'll die trying."

Waylon Jennings: A country rebel with punk credibility.
Waylon Jennings: A country rebel with punk credibility.

Jennings and Colter moved back to the Valley for good two years ago, to a home in Chandler. But in some ways Jennings never allowed himself to leave. It's clear that while he lived much of his life in Nashville, he lived his better memories in Arizona.

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