Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Waylon Jennings, “Lucille (You Won’t Do Your Daddy’s Will)”

“Lucille (You Won’t Do Your Daddy’s Will)”

Waylon Jennings

Written by Albert Collins and Little Richard

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 27, 1983


#1 (1 week)

June 4, 1983

It’s Only Rock + Roll is often referenced as the beginning of the end for Waylon Jennings.  

Recorded as the ravages of addiction were most impactful on his voice, a covers album of old rock hits was easy to portray as a creative nadir for a man who was once something of a country music vanguard.

And perhaps it was. But you’d never know it listening to “Lucille (You Won’t Do Your Daddy’s Will.)”  Look, maybe he simply couldn’t do this as a rave up in the same spirit of the Little Richard original.  His growls toward the end sound like a struggle.

But a great artist knows how to adjust to their own limitations.  Jennings made the choice to recast “Lucille” as someone who has worn the protagonist down.  He’s tired of her shenanigans, but he lacks his own will to walk away.

The presentation is so starkly different that it feels more like a reboot than a remake. It stands entirely apart from the original recording, going for something a little more quiet and a lot more dark.

It’s a fascinating record that really does bookend Jennings’ remarkable superstar run.   We will only seem him twice more in this feature: as part of a superstar collaboration in 1985 and with his final solo No. 1 hit in 1987.

“Lucille (You Won’t Do Your Daddy’s Will)” gets a B+

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. It should be said that this wasn’t even the first time this “Lucille” had been covered after Little Richard’s original; the Everly Brothers had a hit with it in 1960 as well. Still, this mid-tempo version is one of the best examples of the rock-influenced side of A Man Called Hoss (IMHO).

  2. Waylon’s career in the mid-to-late 80s was definitely a downward slope. However, he saw an uptick in quality in the 90s.
    As much as I love 90s country, I still think it’s a shame the industry was too focused on the new acts of the day to give those late- career Waylon albums (specifically Right For the Time and Too Dumb for New York City) the recognition they deserve.

  3. 80’s Waylon is always a overlooked period. I didn’t even remember this song. Great groove and thumping bass influenced by Waylon’s early rock & roll years. I also really love “Never Could Toe the Mark”. Kevin you are really highlighting some singles that I’ve glossed over in my years of studying artist’s.

  4. As hard as it is to hear iconic artists struggle to regain their vitality and relevance in a changing musical marketplace, it is good reminder that every decade has its version of the passed over legend. As Shel Silverstein wrote, “Nashville is rough on the livin’ but she really speaks well of the dead.”

    Johnny Cash is simultaneously in a low point of his career as the eighties roll along.

    Here, I love how messy and tired this performance sounds. It does struggle and plod along. The performance feels like it is down in the mud. It is the right song right for the right time in Jennings’ career.

    What a wonder to see Haggard and Jennings back to back at the top of the charts!

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