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Hoss...Remembering Waylon

Nashville, TN, February 13, 2002

I was sittin' in the Longhorn with my friend Captain Midnight this afternoon when we heard the news. The Captain is the skinny guy in the picture on the cover of Honky Tonk Heroes. He's also my host and long-standing friend here in Nashville. He and Waymore were real close.

Waylon was the first Nashville "star" I met when I first came to town, although at the time there was just a few of us who knew that he really was. All of us, Waylon and Shaver and Midnight and Tom T.'s brother Hillman and me used to hang out at Bobby Bare's little Return Music office on 19th Avenue.

One of the reasons we hung out there was because there was a pinball machine that paid out that, if you got desperate, you could take a telephone book and hold it up to the side of it and beat on it with this big glass ashtray they had around there, and it would rack up games which you could then cash in for money to eat on. Waylon never had to do it, except just out of cussedness, but there was plenty of times that machine bought me a couple of Burger Boys from across the street.

In fact whenever I think of Waylon, it's mostly in connection with pinball machines. Numerous times, after Waylon had managed to get 'em to let him make records his way and it had started to pay off for him, he and I hung out all day long at JJ's playing the machine there, just the two of us, not saying a word, for about eight hours and about eighty of his bucks.

Waylon and I never had much to say to each other, for no particular reason, I guess there wasn't much to be said. I have never been good at ego strokes, and I am by nature a shy and taciturn person. But maybe that was the reason why whenever I saw him he'd say "Hey, Hoss," and we'd silently enjoy the Dr. Snapp buzz and grind our teeth and just play the pinball.

When Patty's and my house on Granny White Pike burned down, the first thing that I remember was getting a check for two hundred bucks from Waylon, back when two hundred bucks was a lot, to us and to him. He never mentioned it to anyone, not even to Midnight, who was a true confidante. And later that same week, Jessi gave me a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and the next day I got two solid weeks of sessions.

Being in close proximity to Waylon a few times over a few years doesn't mean I think I knew him any better than anybody else who liked his music. We never got personal. I never worked with him. So any opinion I have about his legacy or whatever is just about as uninformed as anyone else's.

But there is this truth: he was The Hoss. He was a big ole robust vibrant in-your-face cowboy singer, and the world is bereft of a unique and original.

So now I'm sitting here in the Sweetheart Penthouse. Me and Patty are hanging out with Captain Midnight, who is fielding calls from well-wishers, and attempting to absorb the reality reflected by the news. Every once in a while he wanders into the office here, and looks at the mementoes on the walls: his platinum record (the FIRST platinum record for a Nashville record) awarded to him for his participation on Wanted: The Outlaws (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser), the cover of Honky Tonk Heroes, numerous pictures of Midnight with Waylon, Midnight with Roger Miller, Midnight with Kinky and Roger Friedman and Kacey Jones, Midnight with his beloved wife Scout, now departed for three years. He shakes his head sadly and walks back into his bedroom to take another call. The earth rolls on.