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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Honky Tonk Heroes

Waylon Jennings

1973

Buy At Rough Trade
Honky Tonk Heroes
Album Summary

Honky Tonk Heroes is a country music album by Waylon Jennings, released in 1973 on RCA Victor. With the exception of "We Had It All", all of the songs on the album were written or co-written by Billy Joe Shaver. The album is considered an important piece in the development of the outlaw sub-genre in country music as it revived the honky tonk music of Nashville and added elements of rock and roll to it. Jennings had invited the then unknown Shaver to Nashville to write the songs for Jenning's next album after hearing him sing "Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me" before the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion. When Shaver arrived in Nashville, he spent six months pursuing Jennings before again convincing him to make an album of his songs. Jennings had recently renegotiated his contract with RCA Records. The label granted him creative control over his work to avoid losing him to Atlantic Records. As his usual producer, Chet Atkins, was reluctant to release a record consisting of songs written by an unknown songwriter, Jennings replaced him with Tompall Glaser. Jennings replaced the Nashville session musicians with his own band, The Waylors. The executives of RCA Records were reluctant to release the album, and delayed it until July 1973. Honky Tonk Heroes had a good reception by the critics on release. It reached number 14 in Billboard's Top Country albums chart. The singles "You Asked Me To" and "We Had It All" did well, reaching number 8 and 28, respectively. The album was listed in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.06

Votes

11116

Genres

  • Country

Reviews

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Fri Apr 22 2022
5

My 16 year old self would've wanted to punch me for saying this, but I actually really liked a Country album. Didn't overstay its welcome and after a stressful day of work, felt soothing. Had some great acoustic guitar and bass to accompany the outlaw imagery. Would say Omaha was the best of the bunch.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

This is what country is about. Waylon takes pain and hope and love and blends it all together in a great album. He’s definitely a pillar of country for a reason.

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Wed Mar 03 2021
3

Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I still really hate that whimpering steel guitar sound with a deep and abiding passion and the lyrical content of most of these songs absolutely do not connect with me. But not all of them. There are some solid tracks here. Enough to give it a middling grade from me, at least.

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Thu May 13 2021
5

First album generated that I gave more than one listen for the day. Shaver writing for Waylon. Awesome.

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Fri Oct 15 2021
5

I loved it. It took me back to my childhood when I worked for my dads drywall company in hill yard (an area of spokane) and would go get lunch across the street and they played country music with slide steel guitars

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Wed Jan 20 2021
4

Surprisingly really enjoyable. Old country is so much better than new country damn

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Thu Apr 08 2021
4

one of my favorite all time country albums. The birth of Outlaw country and by far Waylons best work (only album you really need by him imo). I always thought Willie Nelson was the better of the 2 but that this album may have been the best between them all. The tone, the lyrics, the non twang-y country and his deep voice all just took Country in the best direction it's ever been taken, mixed with blues and rockabilly

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

This was actually pretty cool! Really liked the first song and seems like some funny/cool old country to have in your lexicon.

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Thu Jul 08 2021
4

Waylon gets in, handles his business, and gets out. Great lyrics (no, really, some true classics in here) and slick early-70s production make this a good time to listen to.

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Mon Aug 23 2021
3

Not a huge country fan, but don't mind this kind of "classic country". Songwriting is great and production is clean. Would have liked the songs to open up a bit more and have time for longer solos and more jamming, but I guess that wasn't the style.

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Fri Oct 29 2021
3

Pretty good listen, but it's short and forgettable. Favorite track might be Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

An underrated classic artist. Need to remember Waylon more!

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

Take me back to Nashvillle right now. Lush with the kind of pathos and grit that all of favourite country music shows. Real characters in profound circumstances. Pure songwriting magic.

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Thu Apr 01 2021
4

I'm finally able to appreciate classic country.

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Thu Jan 25 2024
3

Nr. 108/1001 Honky Tonk Heroes 3/5 Old Five And Dimers 2/5 Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me 4/5 Low Down Freesom 4/5 Omaha 3/5 You Ask Me To 3/5 Ride Me Down Easy 3/5 Ain't No God In Mexico 3/5 Black Rose 3/5 We Had It All 2/5 Average: 3,0/5 Ultimately forgettable Country album.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
5

I love Waylon. He practically created a genre. This album has many wonderful songs and is a perfect example of outlaw country.

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Tue Jul 20 2021
5

Bro deze gaat in de country rotation 5/5 bruuur yeeha

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

This makes me want to go down to Nashville and party. :)

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Thu Sep 23 2021
5

This album is so great. Waylon pioneers country music in this album, and the vocal and instrumental performances are amazing. The songwriting is great and has tons of catchy stuff, and I will likely listen to this album several more times.

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Mon Oct 25 2021
5

Tykkäsin yllättävän paljon tästä kantrilevystä. Biisit oli tarttuvia, mutta ei mielestäni kuitenkaan liian renkutusta. Ja tunnelmallisesti pääsi hienosti kuvitelmien Route 66:lle rekan rattiin.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

This is my first country album and it's actually really good!

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Mon Jan 17 2022
5

Tough, gruff, but real lyrics.

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

As far as I'm concerned, this is what Country music is and should be. One of those albums that are historically important (laying the groundwork for all the Outlaw Country albums to come), but also just good fun to listen to.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
5

So I pretty much much hate all mainstream country from 1980 to now, it's absolute shit music. However I do love 70's outlaw country and I really love Waylon. This is one my favorite Waylon albums, a few of the slow numbers I don't particularly care for but Black Rose might be one of my favorite country tunes of all time, I love cranking that one. Given this might be the only Waylon album on the list I'm going 5 stars, more for Waylon than the album per se.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
5

The genesis of outlaw country. Just incredible. Best track: Honky Tonk Heroes

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Fri Sep 02 2022
5

Wonderful. I have very little knowledge of country music. And this is an awesome entry point.

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

I am not the biggest fan of country music, specifically what they call country music today (some unholy blend of pop and country), but I've always had a soft spot for Waylon Jennings. Every time I listen to his music, I am immediately transported back in time to driving around in dad's old truck with him listening to Waylon on cassette. Dad loves Waylon, and has passed that admiration of his work on to me. Waylon, and specifically this album, is attributed to the start of the outlaw country subgenre. A perfect melding of rock/blues/country. This era of country was fantastic. So many amazing acts came as a direct result of the works of Waylon, Willie, Johnny, and Merle. It is insane how similar Colter Wall's voice is to Waylon's. Especially in the song Ain't No God In Mexico. Listen to that song, then listen to the song Raisin' Cotton by Colter Wall. The similarity is crazy!! Overall, I loved today's listen, and enjoyed shot of nostalgia that came with it! Favourite songs: Honky Tonk Heroes, Omaha, Black Rose, Slow Rollin' Low, Old Five and Dimers (Like Me), Low Down Freedom, Ride Me Down Easy, Ain't No God In Mexico Least favourite song: if forced to pick, Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me 5/5

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Tue Dec 13 2022
5

Loved this. Reminds me of fishing with my Grandpa.

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

Even though it doesn’t have any of Waylon’s biggest hits, Honky Tonk Heroes is an excellent benchmark in a long catalogue. Its the first collaboration with Billy Joe Shaver as songwriter and it marks Waylon’s first album with full creative control. Stripped down arrangements made for an iconic sound that he and his peers would come to emulate and refine later, and come to be known as outlaw country. But this stands as one of his most consistent, with his own production work, the blueprint used throughout his career laid out in 27 minutes that stands up to repeated spins. Call it 4.5 stars, I’ll round it up.

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Thu Dec 22 2022
5

5.0 + Classic country sounding so human and sweet. Jennings’ voice expresses joy and aching sorrow and all the emotions in between. And the dueling lap steel and slide guitar on “You Ask Me To” is undeniably awesome.

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Fri Feb 03 2023
5

Slow Rollin Low has got to be one of the best songs of all time.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
5

There's more country soul in this than a backwoods graveyard

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Fri Apr 28 2023
5

Really aces when it comes to blending Outlaw and Honky Tonk so smoothly. And now I have 3 out of 4 of the Highwaymen (waiting for you Kris) in my Repertoire, so that is fun.

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Mon May 08 2023
5

Brilliant outlaw country, by a member of the Highwaymen - the supergroup of the genre. I loved it, and am pleased to see Waylon get recognition as a solo artist (not just alongside his brothers in the band). Wonderful

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Thu May 18 2023
5

loved it, wanna be in the mountains

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Wed May 31 2023
5

That was pretty cool. Started out absolutely great, lost a bit of steam towards the end but still a nice 4/5. Update: I listened to this twice and enjoyed it even more the second time. 5/5 now.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

I first heard this album at age 5 and it’s played with regularity for my entire life. Waylon Jennings' rich, unmistakeable voice is comfort food for my soul. With Billy Joe Shaver's incredible storytelling and country arrangements that stray into rock territory with electric electric guitars this album has been a lifelong education that just keeps the lessons coming. This album is packed with great lyrics. "Piano roll blues danced holes in my shoes there weren't another other way to be for them lovable losers and no account boozers and honky tonk heroes like me." "Low down freedom you done cost me Everything I'll everything I'll ever lose Lord." "The devil made me do it the first time, the second time I done it on my own." "If I hadn't been railroaded well, I guess I'da been a train." "Been a good month of Sundays and a guitar ago had a tall drink of yesterday's wine." Lovable losers and no account boozers have never felt so seen...

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

Superb song-writing and excellent musicianship (and a very pleasing running time). Top notch!

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

I keep trying to come up with something eloquent or entertaining to say about this album, but words not go together good now. This is my first listen and I loved it. For my listening pleasure, it is a 5!!

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

Waylon Jennings was not part of my musical education growing up, except for the theme to "The Dukes of Hazzard." So this was the first time I really listened to his music. I'm really glad this album is in the project. I have found that the country albums that have actually made it on the list are amazing. The songwriting is perfect, and Jennings' performances as well.

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Fri Aug 11 2023
5

I really liked this! Great outlaw country

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Fri Aug 25 2023
5

Danny McBride should make his next HBO series based on this album. It's probably already inspired some of his work. This is really what I think of when I hear "country rock". To think Ol' Waylon was a coin flip away from being on that plane with Buddy Holly and Richie Valens the day the music died. Not on Waylon's watch! He demanded creative control, and ultimately made the music he wanted without anyone standing in his way. I wish I could have partied with Waylon.

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Sun Sep 17 2023
5

Just about perfect. Short, sweet, catchy. Nobody did it like Waylon.

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Wed Dec 13 2023
5

I'm warming up to country and I enjoy hearing part of its history. Loved the sound on this one

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Sat Dec 16 2023
5

What a KILLER album. Tight songwriting, great melodies and bass lines, zero superfluous songs and just long enough to leave you wanting more. This will be going on my regular rotation… INSTANT 5 stars!

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Wed Dec 27 2023
5

Who doesn't love Waylon! My Pops had me listening to his music and playing it when I was older!

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Fri Jan 12 2024
5

Haven't spent much time listening to Waylon Jennings on his own; mostly listening to his collaboration with Willie. What a miss! This album is exactly what I look for in honky-tonk country music. Electric guitar picking, harmonica, and a driving bass line.

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Thu Jan 18 2024
5

I like Country Music and enjoy hearing the ‘real’ country singers!

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

This was a fantastic album. Waylon Jennings is perhaps the most iconic outlaw country artist and this album shows why. It is a good mix of honky tonk with ballads throughout ending with the reflective ‘We Had it All.’ Outlaw country artists operated outside of the Nashville machine which lends a stripped down and earnest feel to their music. It sounds like the truth to me.

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Sun Jan 21 2024
5

Love this so much. Country is not high on my genre list, but his style of country hits different, and this album is just beautiful. Feels like home. Waylon is a gem.

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Sun Jan 21 2024
5

This music is from an age when music was well written at every level and in every aspect: lyrics, instrumentals, voice, content--before songs and tunes became entries in formulas and more focused on image instead of musical craft. These "old five-and-dimers," Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and so many others are legends for music like this.

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Mon Jan 22 2024
5

I listen to Waylon, Willie, Chris and Johnny (the highwaymen) every day.

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Mon Feb 05 2024
5

have loved this album literally all of my life. It was on heavy rotation as I grew up.

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Thu Feb 15 2024
5

REAL COUNTRY MUSIC I grew up in the southeastern United States, with most of my childhood in the 90s. I was surrounded by “country music” and I hated it (there were exceptions like Garth and songs here and there). I didn’t know why, it seemed fake and largely was. Years later I discovered Waylon, Willie and newer artists making interesting country music like Sturgill Simpson (Metamodern Sounds In Country Music kicked a door open for me). This is as good as it gets in country in my view. It’s beautifully short at 29 minutes, but Waylon manages to take you on a journey throughout. His voice sounds great, the playing is fantastic, and it’s hard to find a better line than “the devil made me do it the first time, the second time I did it on my own.” This is saloon music for wayward souls. Favorites: title track, Black Rose, Ain’t No God in Mexico

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Fri Feb 16 2024
5

This is why I'm doing this project. Loved it and I never would have thought I'd love a Waylon Jennings album. Fantastic in every respect.

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Sun Mar 03 2024
5

Hell yea. Would definitely not have been on my radar. Although Sturgill Simpson has been a recent favorite of mine and now I can clearly see a straight line from Waylon to Sturgill. Glad to have this in my rotation now.

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Fri Mar 15 2024
5

The original outlaw singing songs written by the best outlaw song writer.

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

Outlaw Country is basically the only kind of country I will support, and this is the OG.

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Sun Mar 24 2024
5

What country should have always been.

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Thu Mar 28 2024
5

Great country. Not overdone or hokey, just quality.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
5

Yes please. Loved this. Short, to the point and with a fuck tonne of attitude.

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Wed May 01 2024
5

Such a great record! One of my favs. The drums sound killer, love the groove at the end of honky tonk heroes. This is peak waylon imo

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Wed May 01 2024
5

Great album and great rhythm section. I like the songs my favorite was You Ask Me To and the title track.

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Thu Jun 13 2024
5

Classic country album. Essential

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Tue Jul 02 2024
5

legendary outlaw country artist waylon jennings with his signature baritone voice. what could be better? how about if you have another outlaw legend cowrite the entire album (sans one song)? this album is fuckin’ amazing and a can’t say enough about it. stellar rhythm section and waylon’s voice, so emotive. he can go from tough guy to vulnerable at the drop of a hat. so good. highlights: “honey tonk heroes” “old five and dimers like me” “low down freedom” “you ask me to” “black rose”

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Fri Oct 02 2020
4

i get what orville peck was talking about

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Thu Dec 10 2020
4

ótimo áulbom de country roots!

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Tue Mar 23 2021
4

Very nice, old school country. I learned what outlaw country music is from reading Waylon's bio.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
4

I actually rather enjoyed this and listened to it several times. I tend to gravitate towards the "outlaw" stuff from the 70s when it comes to country. Like Willie and Waylon.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

Fun country-western. Omaha was a standout!

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Tue Jul 06 2021
4

Tego sie nie spodziewalem, albumik country, a dokladnie outlawowego country z roku 73 na takiej liscie, szok i niedowierzanie, bo przeciez w tamtych czasach moda na disko funk, a kowboje juz dawno umarly, ale jednak nie wszedzie, bo ta plyta pokazuje , ze gatunki muzyczne, nawet tak niszowe, jak rozbojnickie granie wioskowe nie gina tak latwo, a moga sie nawet dobrze sprzedac, jesli sa zrobione na poziomie, a tutaj ten poziom jest widoczny od pierwszego do ostatniego traka, pan Jennings pod ktorego beltem jest ten material znalazl zloty srodek miedzy cechami klasycznych kawalkow countrowych, a bardziej przystepnym graniem w stylu rokowym, bo pomimo tego ze traki sa jak przystalo na ten gatunek raczej krotkimi kompozycjami, to instrumentalnie dzieje sie na nich duzo, do tego stopnia, ze niektore piosenki musialem sluchac po kilka razy, skupiajac sie na konkretnym kanale, bo jak na klasyka przystalo cechy mono nagran mocno sie przebijaja, wiec na lewym kanale akustyk jest szarpany, a na prawym odpowiada mu elektryk, kazdy trak ma chyba innego basiste, albo przynajmniej wykorzystuje inne typy gitar, bo ciezko znalezc identyczne brzmienia, tak samo z harpami, bo doslownie jakby kilka osob bylo tylko od tego, do tego smyczki, czy to wiolonczelii, badz skrzypcow pojawiaja sie w wiekszej liczbie niz jeden, moja teorie potwierdza sklad muzykow ktorzy brali udzial w nagrywaniu plyty, bo lista zawiera blisko 20 nazwisk, taka roznorodnosc wsrod grajacych przeklada sie na to, ze zaden trak nie brzmi tak samo, a to przeciez country, najnudniejszy instrumentalnie gatunek, o ile Jennings jest mastermindem tych kompozycji, to jednak nie spiewa on swoich kawalkow, bo wszystkie piosenki, poza we had it all, zdecydowanie najslabszej czesci plyty, szczesliwie to ostatni trak, jest mister Billy Joe Shaver, po ktorego zguglowaniu okazal sie tych archetypem wspolczesnego, jak na lata 70, kowboja, ktory scigal Jenningsa na drugi koniec stanow zeby ten zrobil material z jego tekstami i dopial swego, cale szczescie, bo o ile granie i kompozycja instrumentalna jest godna pochwaly, to jak dla mnie najbardziej te plyte robia wlasnie teksty, ktore tak plynnie oddaja ducha utraconego juz swiata tytulowych honky tonkowych herosow, czyli ludzi zyjacych z dnia na dzien i umierajacych z dnia na dzien, bez grosza przy duszy, ktorych najwiekszym zmartwieniem jest co dzisiaj zjesc, wiec opowiesci o kowbojach biedakach i pieknych kobietach, wielkich wygranych barowych kontestow, tanich alkoholach, prawie i jego strozach, milosci do swojej malej ojczyzny, a jednoczesnym umilowaniu wolnosci nieograniczonej zadnymi granicami, jesli w 73 byly to juz motywy na wymarciu, to obecnie sa one skamielinami, moze wlasnie dlatego tak dobrze sie tego slucha, na plejke z pewnoscia leci tytulowy trak, dodatkowo aint no god in mexico i willy the wandering gypsy and me, ale material 27 minutowy, wiec idealny na krotka sesje na raz

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Mon Feb 08 2021
4

Buen disco, la voz impresionante, me faltaria un poco más presencia de la banda en algunos momentos. Me gustaria pegarle más escuchas para saborearlo bien.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Thoroughly enjoyable. Works well with enjoyable rhythm and smooth lyrics

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Surprising great album, even if it's not my usual jam.

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Thu Apr 22 2021
4

Very listenable and just the right amount of country + rock'n'roll. I only really knew him from "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys", so this was a bit of a pleasant revelation.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
4

Usually not my cup of tea, I found this country album quite enjoyable.

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Sat Mar 27 2021
4

One of the outlaws making classic country sounds. It’s easy to see how he made a difference in the genre.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

I love me some Waylon Jennings.

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Tue Jul 27 2021
4

Country I can get around. Old Five and and Dimers, Black Rose and Slow Rollin' Low are my highlights. Dudes lived an interesting life, shared a house with Johnny Cash and gave up his seat on the flight that killed Buddy Holly.

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Mon Aug 02 2021
4

Pretty good lawn cuttin music

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Tue Aug 24 2021
4

Enjoyed this very short album

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Sun Oct 03 2021
4

The first song was a banger. I liked this far more than I expected to.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
4

Beep! Beep! There's a band named Cracker that was big in the 90's. Also, in the 90's I was once called honky - "What's up honky?!" ... and again, in the 90's... Archers of Loaf had an album called "White Trash Heroes," (the last song on that album by the same name is great). This album, "Honky Tonk Heroes" came out in the 70s. Evidently things had changed in the 20 years since Waylon Jennings had released this so I had to get to the bottom of what Honky Tonk was and I did a Wikipedia search. Evidently, there's a difference between country music and another similar style of music called Honky Tonk, whereas Country music was mostly from the rural south and had a religious slant to it whereas Honky Tonk was the style of music played by rural southerners who've moved to the city and discovered all of it's ills, which makes sense since WJ and Johnny Cash were known to do some pretty awesome drugs together. Oh! The album. As soon as I found out that this eschews any religious slant, it freed me up to listen to this with an open mind and guess what... ? I liked this way more than I thought I would. I especially liked that it was only 32 mins. I liked the pace of it. I liked the slide guitar and I liked his voice.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Oof this is hard. I love a classic honkey tonk album, and this is certainly one. But is this the best? A true five star? Another four star ratIng—but I suspect this could have been a five star if I had grown up with it.

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Thu Dec 02 2021
4

I never got into country music until the last few years. Outlaw Country is the latest discovery for me and you can't have Outlaw without Waylon. Billy Joe Shaver's addition to the lineup helps turn this album into a fun romp. 4/5.

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