It is a quiet day in Colorado, and the perfect soundtrack for this morning is the collaborative album “Highwayman”, which was created by four country legends, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. While I have no major objections to modern country music, these titans will always represent this genre at its greatest and most pure, in my eyes. Driving any direction south of where I grew up, you can still see the rural fields of Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains, where the music of these legends has rolled across for decades now. Many of my closest friends grew up with horses, and though I did not, I have always felt connected to this lifestyle, at least in an adjacent manner.
The music of this album reflects the character and uniqueness of each of their voices. Taking on ten different songs, some of their creation, many of which were from another artist, it is good sport and easy listening to distinctively recognize as we switch from Johnny to Kris to Waylon, and of course to Willie. Naturally, the two most notable voices are the most unique and different from each other, the deep baritone of Cash and the higher, more nasal tone of Willie. This mixture could have fallen flat, but the four really mix well together, and create a beautiful chorus together. The two-part harmony of Cash and Nelson is particularly well aligned on “Committed to Parkview”.
The title single was their biggest hit and most defining song, and it is a good one. The other songs I like the most pay tribute to friendship, devotion, and a lifestyle fading into the background. I love the ballad “The Last Cowboy Song” for exactly that reason. “Jim, I Wore a Tie Today” tells the story of a group of friends saying goodbye to a dear friend. “Big River” is an upbeat rockabilly track that would sound perfect in any country bar along the side of some mostly empty road. The rest of album is of equal caliber, and I really liked the cover they did of “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger, a song my mom attributed to me on my 18th birthday.
This is feel-good music, and it rings particularly true as I have passed many of the days of this year back home in Colorado, reconnecting with the family and friends who mean so much to me. I love each of the three corners of my life-triangle that is life in 2021, and Colorado will always be my first home with the deepest roots. I’m grateful to the Highwaymen for giving me the music to enjoy today’s sunny winter glow.