Classic Tracks: Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way"
Apr 27, 2010 1:40 PM, By Barbara Schultz
“The studio was small, so there wasn’t a lot of space between places,” Lehning says, “and Waylon was at the center of all of this, playing electric guitar and singing live vocals into a Neumann U47 FET. Sometimes he would fix a vocal later, but sometimes it would be that live vocal on the track. The vocal chain would have been the preamp in the Flickinger console through an LA-2A and the FET U47.
“We had a lot of extra instruments around the studio, as well,” Lehning continues. “[Waylon] would actually play my electric 12-string from time to time and run it through his Maestro Phaser—though mostly he would play his old leather Telecaster. And [pedal steel player Ralph] Mooney kept everything moving in a really sweet, gentle kind of way. He would always ask just the right questions to push things in the right kind of way.”
The songs were captured to an MCI 16-track machine, but the project also made use of the studio’s Scully 2-track. “Sometimes we would use tape delay into the [EMT] plate,” Lehning says. “We had a lot of tape machines, and we even had an 8-track that I would use for slap, things like that. Ah, the good old days!”
Lehning also has fond memories of the Flickinger board: “That console sounded outrageous,” he says. “Dan Flickinger was a guy who was way ahead of his time. He built these really interesting Class-A consoles; they were transistors, but they were Class-A. The Glasers had a 20-input console, and it was huge—one of those big, heavyweight aircraft carrier–sized consoles with a big meter bridge where I could place the KLH monitors.”
Outboard processing gear at Glaser Sound included UREI 1176 and LA-2A compression, and a Pandora digital delay that Lehning says may have been used on this album (“but definitely not on vocals”). The studio was fitted with JBL 4320 mains, but Lehning says he and Clement mostly mixed on that pair of KLH Model 6s.
It was during the mix that “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” took on the “real strange” quality that Jennings acknowledged set Clement’s production apart from other country recordings of the time.
“I took that song in a different direction while [Waylon] was away one night,” Clement recalls. “I’ll do that—get in there and experiment—and this was one that I messed with. We cut the track, and then some time later I put my own rhythm guitar part on it, and it wound up different than how it started. Waylon loved it, and that’s how the record ended up.”
“Hank” ended up being Clement’s favorite track on the album, as well as a fan favorite: It reached Number One on the Billboard Country Singles chart, and Dreaming My Dreams was a Number One country album. Clement and Jennings never worked together again officially, but they remained personal and musical friends.
Lehning left Glaser’s studio after Dreaming My Dreams to become an independent engineer/producer. He went on to tremendous success with artists such as England Dan and John Ford Coley, George Jones, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis, whom he’s produced regularly since 1986.
Jennings followed Dreaming My Dreams with the seminal Wanted: The Outlaws collection that also featured his wife, Jessi Coulter, and friends Glaser and Willie Nelson. All told, Jennings cut more than 50 albums in a nearly 40-year career. Jennings suffered from RSI late in his life, and was no longer able to play guitar when Mix interviewed him in 1998. He also suffered from diabetes and died of complications of that disease in 2002.
“Dreaming My Dreams is my favorite album I’ve ever done,” Jennings wrote in ’96. “Whether it was Clement experimenting, or the sense of possibility I felt settling into Tompall’s upstairs studio, surrounded by friends…it was a special moment in time, hanging at Tompall’s, being brothers.”
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