Now Mark is honoring Waylon and a slew of like-minded country acts with a new album titled Outlaw, set for release June 22. Produced by Pete Anderson, best known for his work with Dwight Yoakam, Outlaw serves up new versions of songs associated with Billy Joe Shaver, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and — of course — Waylon.
“When I was first approached to record this CD, my reaction wasn’t just ‘yes,’ but ‘hell, yeah,’” Mark says. “I cut my teeth on this kind of music, and it’s an opportunity [that might not have otherwise presented itself] for me to pay tribute to some of my biggest heroes in country music.”
Country’s outlaw era in the late 1970s took its name from Wanted: The Outlaws, a compilation album that featured Waylon, Willie, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter. The project yielded Waylon and Willie’s duet “Good Hearted Woman” and helped identify a group of artists who refused to bend their sound to satisfy Music Row decision makers, who often tried to make their rebel acts conform to mainstream country standards. Johnny Paycheck, Hank Williams Jr. and David Allan Coe were considered part of the outlaw tradition, as were Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash by some definitions. Hank Williams has often been referred to as country’s first outlaw.
Mark was a Texas teen when the outlaw sound demanded attention, and he was influenced by the artists in that informal movement as well as by traditional-country singer George Jones and the multi-genre Elvis Presley.
Apparently, Mark learned his lessons well. While current recording techniques often have singers laboring in the studio for days and weeks trying to get all the parts just right, Mark was in and out in less than three hours.
“Mark Chesnutt put on a vocal display like I’ve never before seen in the studio,” Pete Anderson observes. “We are all amazed at the results. There may be singers out there as good as Mark, but there are none better and, at this point in my career, I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with this caliber of talent.”