Hank Williams, Jr. wrote this honky-tonk guitar track in honor of his friend and mentor Waylon Jennings, who died of diabetic complications in 2002. Williams appreciates country legends like Johnny Cash, who has "got that lick America loves," and his own dad, Hank Williams, whose "songs came direct from heaven above," but it was Waylon and his Fender Telecaster that had "that sound."
By the 1970s, Williams was more than ready to step out from behind his famous father's shadow, having spent the last decade playing Hank Sr.'s songs and emulating his style. He found a place in the outlaw country movement alongside Jennings who, as the lyrics explain, gave him an important guitar lesson:
You've gotta take that E string Hank and turn it down
You've gotta have that half time beat that walks around
Williams and Jennings also wrote and performed the Top 20 Country hit "The Conversation" (1979) and sang together on Williams' "Leave Them Boys Alone
" (1983), which peaked at #6 on the Country tally.
So whatever became of Waylon's guitar? Keith Urban owns it. The country singer's wife, Nicole Kidman, bought the Telecaster at an auction in 2009 and surprised him with it. Urban told CMT's Country Countdown USA: "We got it from Reggie Young, who was touring with The Highwaymen, and by all accounts, Waylon came in one day and gave it to him. It's a very heavy guitar. It's a 1950 Fender Broadcaster. He said, 'Hoss I want you to have this guitar. It's too heavy.' So Reggie had it for 25 years and decided it was time to sell it. He didn't know I bought it. He was the first guy I called and introduced myself to him. I said 'I own this guitar. Anytime you want it, come over and get it.' He's borrowed it for Waylon Jennings days, festivals he plays, that sort of things.'"
Reggie Young, former owner of Waylon's Telecaster, is also one of the electric guitarists on the track.