The Story Behind Waylon Jennings’ “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”

Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings

Once the “outlaw” label was affixed to Waylon Jennings, he spent a great deal of time and energy trying to fight the association. Though pleased with the attention to his music, Jennings didn’t want to be stereotyped. At the end of 1978 he put his feelings into a Top Five single, “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand.”

Nevertheless, “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” actually helped to promote the outlaw image. Rifles, lawmen and the jailhouse were all mentioned in the song, which had appeared earlier on an Emmylou Harris LP and as the title track of Rodney Crowell’s first solo album in 1978.

Jennings’ single version faded out after three-and-a-half minutes, though the album cut lasted just under five minutes. Waylon recorded it in one take, and although he attempted to go back in and fix a couple of the vocal parts that bothered him a little, he never could lay it in there again like he did that one time. So they left it as it was.

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