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Various Artists

I've Always Been Crazy: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings – 2003 (RCA)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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The second Waylong Jennings tribute to be released this year, "I've Always Been Crazy" compares favorably to the earlier "Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean," while trading that album's punk and indie rock cred for a generally more mainstream lineup. Happily, the latest tribute compliments the earlier volume, demonstrating just how deeply Jennings' influence was felt across the whole of the music industry.

Kicking things off is John Mellencamp with a fine rendition of "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way." On hand are a handful of metal turns from Shooter Jennings' band Stargunn ("I've Always Been Crazy") and Metallica vocalist James Hetfield ("Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand"), now engaging in precisely the sort of extracurricular activity which got Metallica's former bassist, Jason Newsted, booted out of the band a couple of years ago.

Also tapped are a number of Jennings' close friends, including Travis Tritt ("Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean"), Hank Williams, Jr. ("Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line") and Jennings' widow, Jessi Colter ("Storms Never Last").

Also worth a mention is Dwight Yoakam's take on "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)," in which Yoakam gives Jennings' material a Bakersfield twist that Jennings himself rarely employed. Closing out the album is Jennings himself with his final studio recording, "The Dream," a piano-based ballad which - fittingly - is one of Jennings' finest recordings in several years. Comparing life and dreams, Jennings provides his own epitaph when he sings, "I've had it both ways and the dream could never compare."