Back in 1976, Waylon Jennings was doing whatever the hell he wanted to do, as he often did.
Jennings had just come off of a decade-long run of incredible outlaw country music, and decided to test his limits with the album Are You Ready for the Country, which was number one on Top Country Albums chart on this date, 47 years ago.
The project was released in June of 1976 and featured a number of original songs paired with various covers of mostly rock songs. You would think that an album titled Are You Ready for the Country would only hit fans with country music, but Waylon wanted to switch things up and slid some of his takes on rock music into the track list.
Many fans enjoyed the change of pace from Jennings, which is why the project peaked at the top spot on the Country Albums chart and even reached as high as 34 on the Billboard 200. Critics were a little more picky about the album, with some saying that it didn’t feel like it all flowed together like many of Waylon’s past projects did.
Say what you want about it, but there’s no doubt that Are You Ready for the Country brought some great songs into the country catalogue of Waylon Jennings. Writers on the album include Waylon himself, Neil Young, Donnie Fritts, Jimmy Webb, Shel Silverstein (yes that Shel Silverstein), and Ken Mansfield.
The project produced four top-ten singles, which eventually allowed for it to become certified gold. Waylon often rode the line between country music and rock, so this album was the perfect combination of creativity, country, collaboration, and some good old-fashioned rock and roll.
One of the biggest songs from Are You Ready for the Country was “Can’t You See,” which was a cover of the popular Marshall Tucker Band tune. Waylon managed to put his own personal spin on it, and it reached the number four spot on the country singles chart.
“Can’t You See”
The title track for the project was also rather successful, and was another cover song from Neil Young’s iconic 1972 Harvest album.
Waylon dropped the slower, piano-heavy original version and really went full country with the cover, and who can really blame him if he’s trying to do the name of the album justice?
“Are You Ready for the Country”
And then you have one of the album’s original songs, “I’ll Go Back To Her,” which is actually one of my personal favorites from Are You Ready for the Country. The tune is a little slower, but gives off that iconic country sound and storytelling that Jennings was famous for.