Alanna Nash
September 27, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Waylon: An Autobiography

Current Status
In Season
Waylon Jennings, Lenny Kaye
Music, Memoir

We gave it a B

Waylon Jennings may be one of country music’s true visionaries, but in his own mind, he’s still Buddy Holly’s protege, and the guy who gave up his seat on Holly’s ill-fated flight. The guilt of that and of his taunting last words to Buddy (”I hope your ol’ plane crashes”) frames this well-turned and sometimes salty memoir of a life lived in almost total excess. Jennings is refreshing in judging his own work, candid in discussing his former $1,500-a-day cocaine habit, and poignant in exposing his emotional vulnerability. Along the way, he turns an honest spotlight on a passel of colorful characters, including Willie Nelson (”He’s like a cartoon…he could screw up a two-car funeral”), Elvis (”I don’t think he was deep enough inside”), and best friend Johnny Cash (”There’s a dark menacing side, something that he has no control over”). Even though rock chronicler Lenny Kaye lets Jennings drone on about a third too long, Waylon: An Autobiography weighs in as one of the best of country’s tell-alls, as warm, peculiar, and individualistic as Jennings’ music itself. B

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