10 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1976 Waylon Jennings reunited with Ken Mansfield, the producer who oversaw Honky Tonk Heroes. Mansfield understood Waylon’s strengths and for Are You Ready For the Country he crafted a sound that was as gentle and rich as its author’s voice. The title track is a cover of a tune from Neil Young’s Harvest. Though the refrain is delivered with some irony — Jennings had been singing country for almost twenty years at this point — much of the album borrows from the tonal palette of Harvest. “Them Old Love Songs,” “So Good Woman” and “A Couple More Years” are wistful and slightly brooding, with snare drums like heartbeats and pedal-steel flourishes that roll off the track like tears. Beyond the brilliant title song, three cover versions show Jennings ability as a master interpreter. “Can’t You See” is a proud repossession of Marshall Tucker’s Southern rock anthem, while “MacArthur Park” brings out the shadow and velvet in Jimmy Webb’s epic. However, it is Waylon’s reading of the gospel standard “Precious Memories” that stands above all and closes the album with grace.

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1976 Waylon Jennings reunited with Ken Mansfield, the producer who oversaw Honky Tonk Heroes. Mansfield understood Waylon’s strengths and for Are You Ready For the Country he crafted a sound that was as gentle and rich as its author’s voice. The title track is a cover of a tune from Neil Young’s Harvest. Though the refrain is delivered with some irony — Jennings had been singing country for almost twenty years at this point — much of the album borrows from the tonal palette of Harvest. “Them Old Love Songs,” “So Good Woman” and “A Couple More Years” are wistful and slightly brooding, with snare drums like heartbeats and pedal-steel flourishes that roll off the track like tears. Beyond the brilliant title song, three cover versions show Jennings ability as a master interpreter. “Can’t You See” is a proud repossession of Marshall Tucker’s Southern rock anthem, while “MacArthur Park” brings out the shadow and velvet in Jimmy Webb’s epic. However, it is Waylon’s reading of the gospel standard “Precious Memories” that stands above all and closes the album with grace.

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