While cleaning out the office the other day I stumbled across this Pop Quiz that I’d done for the San Francisco Chronicle back in May of 1996… I’m going to find the whole transcript, but that’s going to be a bit. In the meantime, here’s the draft I turned in to the über-editor Joel Selvin:
From the beginning of his career in 1958 when he was an original member of Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets, through his outlaw days with compadres Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, to his glory days, Waylon Jennings has always been a part of the country music landscape. Whether it was as a part of the country music trinity or on his own, Waylon Jennings has lived up to, and sometimes over, the statement that you only get one go around this life, so you better get all you can. His first album, “Waylon Jennings At JDs” was released in December of 1964 and the latest “Right For The Time” was released this month.
Q: Did I hear that you are going to do a stint on Lollapalooza?
A: Yeah. I told ‘em I didn’t want to do the whole thing, but I’m gonna do about six or seven shows.
Q: Are you very familiar with bands like Metallica or Soundgarden?
A: I know the guys in Metallica real well, we’re good friends. James Hetfield and I are good friends, and his Dad and I got to be good friends.
Q: Are there any other current bands that you listen to?
A: Oh yeah, my son, Shooter, is into the alternative scene and I get to watchin’ what he’s listenin’ to. I’m forever sayin’, ‘What’d he say?’ He says to me, ‘Dad, don’t worry about it, the words don’t count.’ He listens to Nine Inch Nails and I love that. He’s got me to understand that. I told him that they’re musical geniuses, but lyrical idiots.
Q: So, on your next album we might hear a Nine Inch Nails cover?
A: Maybe so, you can’t never tell. You can laugh, but I might try it. You might not ever hear it, the world may never hear it, but I’ll have to try it.
Q: Is this the attraction for you to go out on Lollapalooza?
A: You know what, I like all good music. I like anything that is well done and done right. Now, what I wanna do it try and raise, not necessarily the volume, but the energy of what I’m doing and see if it fits. They invited me and I’ll go try it. I don’t know what’s going to happen at Lollapalooza, but you see, I can always lean back on this, I can probably kick most of the audiences’ butts. (laughs)
Q: I’m curious about what you think about the new country movement out there. Does it betray the spirit of country music at all?
A: I don’t know. It’s according to what you are looking for, you know. More power to ‘em, but the thing is when they just eliminate us because we’re over 40 years old. I think, if we decided too, we might own two or three of those stations. It does get a little aggravating that way.
Q: How was it when you first put down cocaine and started playing straight on stage?
A: That was a hard thing, it took me almost eight years to be comfortable with playing again. My first thought was that I was boring people to death. I would be depressed when I would get off and I really felt very boring. It took me a long time to get over that. A little at a time you get over that.
Q: How did you kick?
A: The only way I could ever do it was cold turkey. I had a pretty good little psychologist living with me, Jessi (his wife). She never, ever tried to make me do anything. I had help around me as far as just being there, everybody was on my side and I knew that. If you were a friend of me and you were around me very much I knew you wanted me to quit. I was just dying in front of everybody.
Q: You didn’t do any type of rehab?
A: No, I figured they were fixin’ to put me away somewhere and I had to do it. I just made up my mind and that was it. I tell you what made me quit and this is the honest to God truth. If people who are on drugs would just stop and look one minute in the faces of people that love them… I looked in Jessi’s face one day after I had sobered up a little bit and I saw what looked like a helpless, hopeless feeling that was going through her. I realized then that this was my life. My big talk was that it’s my life and if I wanted to ruin it I can. They’d say it was killin’ me, that was allright. That’s true if you wanna go out into a cave somewhere and not affect other people’s lives, but you have no right to ruin other people’s lives. That’s what I was doin’ to her and everybody that cared anything about me.
Q: I heard Willie Nelson say during a radio interview recently that the only person the outlaw culture meant anything to was you. Any comment?
A: I believe that he has been busted more than I have. (laughs) Next time he says that ask him how many people on this earth have ever been busted for sleeping under the influence at the age of 63. I don’t think so. I’m gonna kick his ass.
Q: Between the kids at Lollapalooza and Willie you got a lot of ass kickin’ to do.
A: I talk that way. The words are easy, doin’ it is another thing. Ain’t no flies on me, hoss. I ain’t gonna get myself in trouble.