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Album Review

Folk Country is chapter number one in the Waylon Jennings/Chet Atkins partnership that ended up as a series of pitched battles. Folk Country is Waylon's true debut album for the RCA label, and while it is very much embryonic in terms of its revelation of the mature Jennings sound, its roots are clearly audible and the material, while safe, is more than satisfying. The single "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" is indicative of the kind of countrypolitan fare Atkins was developing at the label. And while this is only 1963, the listener can hear Jennings stretching the song to its limits — at least the limits imposed by a mainstream country single. Also included is a true folk/country song, the traditional "Man of Constant Sorrow," on which the song's hillbilly roots are given a distinctly modern folk sound treatment. Also, "Cindy of New Orleans," one of Jennings' first attempts at writing story-songs, is a curio that works very well as a narrative with a fine and memorable melody, dressed in trappings of silk around a tale of grit. Jennings was still leaning heavily on the songs of Harlan Howard, who has no less than four tunes present here, including the classics "Another Bridge to Burn" and "What's Left of Me," which open and close the set. Jennings treats the country songs as modern folk songs while keeping to the middle of the road, and the folk songs, if indeed there are any aside from the aforementioned traditional number, are treated in a striking progressive country fashion without allowing the entirety of the songs or their intents to slip away into the ether. While it's true this is "straighter" than any Jennings date on the label, its songs have aged amazingly well.


Born: June 15, 1937 in Littlefield, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

If any one performer personified the outlaw country movement of the '70s, it was Waylon Jennings. Though he had been a professional musician since the late '50s, it wasn't until the '70s that Waylon, with his imposing baritone and stripped-down, updated honky tonk, became a superstar. Jennings rejected the conventions of Nashville, refusing to record with the industry's legions of studio musicians and insisting that his music never resemble the string-laden, pop-inflected sounds that were coming...
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Folk-Country, Waylon Jennings
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