45 years ago today…
On this date in 1977, Waylon Jennings released “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love),” his 5th career No. 1 single at the time.
Written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons, the song was pitched to Waylon Jennings because, wait for it…. his “name was in it.”
And here’s the other kicker, both the writers, nor Waylon had ever even been to Luckenbach when the song was recorded. Waylon would go on to write in his autobiography that he wasn’t particularly fond of the song, but he knew that it had a ton of potential to be a hit.
Drummer Richie Albright recalls Waylon talking about it in a later recording session:
“Just remind me when I’m picking singles from now on that I got to sing that motherfucker every night.”
However, when the recording was finished, and they all listened back, they new they had a hit song on their hands.
“We cut the thing and everybody said, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty good song.’ I don’t think it really sunk in with anybody in the band until after it had been mixed.
Everybody goes into the studio, turns down the lights, and puts on the record. When it finished playing, everybody went, ‘Damn.’”
Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings adds:
“He didn’t like the fact that he was going to sing his own name in a song. He had a lot of facets, but that song, lyrically and everything, the message there is pretty thin.
It references a bunch of other country singers. It is what it is, but I dig it.”
The lead single from his 1977 Ol’ Waylon album, it would go on to become one of the biggest hits in Waylon’s career, and the studio version featured some background vocals from Willie Nelson as well.
And the rest is history.
Years later, at a Waylon Jennings tribute concert, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Eric Church, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Jamey Johnson, Ryan Bingham and more would perform the song to close out the show.