Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2020 May 18 • Monday

The 622nd Soundtrack of the Week is this album of Waylon Jennings songs (with a bonus track of a Chet Atkins arrangement of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood") for the movie Nashville Rebel.

Jennings starred in this movie and apparently wrote most of these songs specifically for the film. He sings them himself and I'm sure he plays the guitar as well because why wouldn't he?

It opens with "Silver Ribbons", a relaxed and loping country song in which the title is a metaphor for railroad trains and the elecrtic guitar subtly suggests the sound of the whistle. "Don't ask me where I'm going / Don't ask me where I've been / Those silver ribbons will take me there / There and back again." A Hobbit reference?

Before Jennings's character becomes a Nashville rebel, I guess first he's a "Nashville Bum", talking about chasing all the "big wheels" in Nashville trying to catch his big break while living on "ketchup soup". There's some nice guitar playing and the song is humorous while also serving as exposition.

"Green River" is a beautiful slow song about remembering lost love. Waylon Jennings was really a marvelous singer as well as a great guitarist, as anybody knows who has listened to the live bar band recordings he made way before he was famous.

Then we get to the title track, with clever lyrics and a steady rolling rhythm as well as a tremendous electric guitar sound. "I've got things to do / And things to say / In my own way."

After this comes another slow and dreamy one with a lovely steel guitar intro, "I'm a Long Way from Home". It's a while before the words come in but the band does a great job of expressing the title before Jennings opens the song by singing the title and then proceeding to dissect the pain of being lonely and homesick.

Side B opens with one of the Deodata tunes, "Corteguay". It's a piano-driven groovy lounge number, not a bossa, I think, but a different Brazilian rhythm. Maybe a mid-tempo samba? It's very nice, whatever it is.

The last song on the A side is "Tennesee", which Jane Dowden, associate producer of the film and author of the liner notes, asserts "introduces a new feeling to the Jennings style". And maybe so! It features the piano and is a more laid back, late-night saloon sort of song, very gentle yet with impressive of depth of emotion and perhaps a touch of Roy Orbison about it, as well as some gospel and blues influences.

The B side kicks off with the "Norwegian Wood" cover, which I assume not to be from the film. It's a very cool arrangement, sounds like it might have clavinet on it or something and of course very nice guitar playing as well as a very effective use of a backing chorus. I usually hate that last addition but it works very well here.

The rest of the record is all instrumentals!

"Hoodlum" is a really cool uptempo number with divebombing and soaring steel guitar flourishes. Now this is really something! Up to now everything has been great but relaxed and laid back. Now the energy is kicked up a notch, though to be honest it might go on a little longer than it should, since it's fairly simple and repetitive and without much in the way of "events" other than the steel guitar.

The next instrumental is "Spanish Penthouse", in which the band create a somewhat Spanish flavor and the acoustic guitar carries the day. Again it might be a bit on the long side for what all happens in it. Perhaps these tunes were source music.

"Lang's Theme" is a slinky number with some more frisky steel guitar action. I think the rhythm might be a hully gully? Gotta love these guitar sounds. Everything sounds great, in fact.

After this comes "Rush Street Blues" a swinging blues that again has amazing steel guitar playing. The steel guitarist really takes center stage here. Who is it? I'd love to know the names of all the musicians.

The record concludes with the serious-sounding and not-country "Lang's Mansion", basically a piano piece with upright bass and violin in supporting roles. There's a valedictorian feel to it, which is appropriate enough given that's the last piece on the record. And a great record too!