Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson Wrote “Good Hearted Woman” During A Motel Room Poker Game In Fort Worth, Texas

Willie Nelson Waylon Jennings country music
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Name a better duo than Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

You can’t.

From tracks like “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”, and “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),” they’ve penned, performed, and recorded plenty of country classics together. And on this date in 1976, they were at the #1 spot on the country charts with one of my all-time favorites, “Good Hearted Woman”.

Waylon first recorded the song as the title track for his 1972 album Good Hearted Woman, where it peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

In 1975, he remixed the song and added vocals from Willie, as well as fake crowd noise, to give it a live feel for their iconic Wanted: The Outlaws! album. That version went #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1976.

And the story behind this country classic is, as you would expect, as cool and timeless as the song itself.

Willie and Waylon wrote it together in 1969 in a motel room in Fort Worth, Texas, during a poker game. Waylon was reading an ad about Ike and Tina Turner, and it mentioned how a lot of her songs were about good-hearted women loving two-timing men.

That’s when it hit him that the concept would make for a fantastic country song, and he asked his friend and expert songwriter, Willie Nelson, to help him write it.

Willie’s then-wife, Connie Koepke, was writing down the lyrics while they finished their poker game, simultaneously trying to finish the song… ironically, Willie and Waylon both ended up losing the game, but they did write a hell of a song.

In addition to Connie, Waylon’s wife, Jessi Colter, was also a big inspiration behind the track, as they detailed just how much their wives had to put up with by being married to two pioneers of the country outlaw movement. I mean, Lord only knows what those women went through (beyond what is well-documented), and the song is as authentic and honest as a country song can be.

Willie says it was obviously inspired by their real-life relationships, especially considering this was on the cusp of the 1970’s outlaw country movement they pioneered and they weren’t always sterling husbands:

“I think Connie and Jessi both were the object of that song. Naturally, we started thinking about the ones who were having to put up with us at that particular time.”

Willie Nelson actually only wrote two lines of the song, but received half of all the royalties that they originally agreed upon, which is cool because it goes to show just how good of a man Waylon really was at heart… even with the bad boy, outlaw image he maintained throughout his career.

For the #1 version on Wanted! The Outlaws, Waylon directed the mixing engineers on exactly how to add Willie’s voice in, because they actually didn’t go into the studio together to record it. So Willie’s vocals you hear on the song are actually edited in, like when Waylon shouts “Willie!” in the middle of the first verse to introduce his part of the song.

Of course, there’s nothing like watching the two of them sing it at live together, and their 1987 live performance is incredible… the amount of charisma each of these two have is just unreal:

Waylon’s original studio version:

And Tina Turner later recorded the song for her 1988 album, Goes Country:


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock