Hidden Gem: Highlights from ‘Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings’

Many of country music’s biggest names have come together to create a compilation of tracks celebrating and paying tribute to the legendary Waylon Jennings. Aptly titled Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings, there are no true weak points on the project, so we’ve gone to the trouble to pick out three highlights worth checking out (though really, you can’t go wrong with any of the tracks). Check out these three incredible performances, and let us know what your favorites are!

Chris Stapleton, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”

The compilation kicks off with mainstream mega-star Chris Stapleton’s rocking rendition of “I Ain’t Living Long Like This.” Stapleton’s powerhouse voice wraps around a classic outlaw track. Between Stapleton’s natural vocal grit and a truly energized performance, it’s hard not to believe him when he belts out the lyrics. The romping production and storming melody add a strong pulse to the record, while the instrumentation is 100% country. It takes skill to pull off a bad-ass track without sounding corny, and Stapleton, like Waylon, has the chops to pull it off. Simply put, its well-done, and incredibly fun listening experience.

Shooter Jennings, “Whistlers and Jugglers”

Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s son, more than does his father justice with his rendition of “Whistlers and Jugglers.” Tackling the composition with a classic crooner’s take, Jennings’ passionate performance brings a great song to life. The production seamlessly blends toned-down traditional instrumentation with a mild edge, enhanced through guitars. Complete with a somber melody and a superb technical performance,  “Whistlers and Jugglers” stands out, and the musical outro is the cherry on top of a recording with hard-to-find flaws. It’s a classic country mid-tempo ballad done to near perfection.

Kacey Musgraves, “The Wurlitzer Prize”

Kacey Musgraves has always had a knack for blending innocence with outlaw, and this track is no different. Musgraves tackles the stellar lyricism with equal doses of vulnerability and confidence. The live atmosphere and purely country production adds to the effect, and allows Musgraves’ vocal ability to become front-and-center. Needless to say, the organic instrumentation and melancholic melody add up to make for a stellar listening experience. While it’s a different take than Jennings’ original, it’s just as effective, and just as worthy of your time.