Waylon and Waymore Blues Band

Waylon and Waymore Blues Band

Never Say Die Live

Lucky Dog/Sony

The great thing about most country music, much like processed cheese food, is that it never really goes bad. Of course, it is only cheese. Slap it on a sandwich, and it does okay, mixed in with the hamburger meat. But sometimes, you really want a nice Brie. And when you want good country music, you look up Waylon Jennings. From his days as a bass player for Buddy Holly to the “Texas Outlaw” movement and on and on, Jennings has created some of the greatest moments country music has enjoyed. Now, he pulls the tour bus up to the Holy Land of country music, the Ryman Auditorium (the original Grand Ole Opry), invites a few friends (Travis Tritt, John Anderson), and belts out a few. And damn, he’s good. Backed up by country’s best backing band, featuring guitarist Reggie Young and Robby Turner on steel, Jennings sounds as vital –and unique — as he ever has. From “Never Been to Spain” to “Good Hearted Woman,” his gruff road-hardened voice and singular guitar takes us to that place in the soul that few performers can reach, but one in which Waylon seems to live, along with his neighbors Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and only a few others. The 14 songs here sound fresh, in large part to the new arrangements featuring brass. Horns in a country song? Well, as Waylon would say, “hell yes, hoss.” Never say die? Try not even breathing hard.

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