It’s no accident that Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings appear as a pair of grizzled gunfighters on the cover of their 1986 collaborative album, Heroes. Together and apart, these two old friends had spent decades pushing against the conventions of the Nashville music machine, as well as wrestling with some persistent inner demons. Songs like “Fans Out on the Road,” “American by Birth," and the title track reflect the values of friendship and courage that both artists had always stood for. Character portraits like “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” and “The Ballad of Forty Dollars” sit comfortably alongside spiritual meditations like “Field of Diamonds” and personal confessions like “I’ll Never Gonna Roam Again.” The album’s romantic ballads—particularly “I Will Always Love You (In My Own Crazy Way)”—are bittersweet and tender as a bruise. A Southwestern-seasoned version of Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Morning” closes Heroes with a final postcard from the outlaw side of life.

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