If you love outlaw country, there’s a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum for you. They’re calling it “Outlaws & Armadillos,” and it spotlights the early 70s, and the music of Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings. There was a media preview of the exhibit, and Country Countdown USA spoke with Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Joe Ely.
Willie Nelson. Waylon Jennings. Kris Kristofferson. Jessi Colter. Bobby Bare. Jerry Jeff Walker. David Allan Coe. Cowboy Jack Clement. Tom T. Hall. Billy Joe Shaver. Guy Clark. Townes Van Zandt. Tompall Glaser. Today, all names synonymous with the word “outlaw,” but 40 years ago they started a musical revolution by creating music and a culture that shook the status quo on Music Row and cemented their place in country music history and beyond.
While the smooth Nashville Sound of the late 1950s and ’60s was commercially successful, some artists, such as Nelson and Jennings, found the Music Row recording model creatively stifling. By the early 1970s, those artists could envision a music industry in which they would write, sing and produce their own music. At the same time, Austin was gaining national attention as a thriving music center with a countercultural outlook. Musicians of varying stripes migrated to Austin, where the disparate strains of country, bluegrass, folk, blues, rock, and conjunto blended to create a unique environment hosted by music–friendly venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Broken Spoke, Soap Creek Saloon and Antone’s.
“Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s offers an unprecedented look at some of the most compelling music and artists in music history,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “This was an era in which renegades Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson fought for and won creative control of their own songs and sounds. It was a time when melodic poets Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver elevated public perception of what a country song could be. It was a time when the Austin, Texas, music and arts scenes blossomed, and when characters like singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, Hondo Crouch (who bought his own town, Luckenbach, Texas), armadillo art specialist Jim Franklin and University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal changed Lone Star culture. At the time, some of these things seemed unusual, even insane. Now, they all seem essential to any understanding of this great American art form, country music.”
Own The Album: Outlaws & Armadillos – Country’s Roaring ‘70s | 2-Disc set featuring 35 song tracks | Now at the Museum Store