COLUMN SEVENTY-TWO, JUNE 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 Al Aronowitz)
I was sittin
in the Longhorn with my friend Captain Midnight when we heard the news about
Waylon. 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---that’s what his
old buddies used to call Waylon---were real close.
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
One of the
reasons we hung out there was because there was a pinball machine that paid out.
If you got desperate, you could take a telephone book and hold it up to the side
of the machine and beat on it with this big glass ashtray they had around there,
and the machine would rack up games which you could then cash in for money to
had to do it to eat, except he did it 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
times, after Waylon had managed to get 'em to let him make records his way and
it had started to pay off for him---and for them---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
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.
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.
Being in close
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.
opinion I have about his legacy or whatever is just about as uninformed as
anyone else's. But there is this truth: Waylon was The Hoss.
He was a big
So now I'm
sitting here in the Sweetheart Penthouse, the guest suite at Captain Midnight's.
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. There’s his platinum record---the FIRST platinum record for a Nashville
album---awarded to him for his participation on Wanted: The Outlaws
(starring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser).
There’s the cover of Honky Tonk Heroes. And there’s numerous
pictures---Midnight with Waylon, Midnight with Roger Miller, Midnight with Kinky
and Roger Friedman and Kacey Jones, and 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. ##
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