On This Day: Waylon Jennings Tops the Charts With ‘Amanda’ in 1979

by Jim Casey

Waylon Jennings scored his ninth No. 1 hit when “Amanda” topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart on June 30, 1979.

Waylon was on a roll in the late 1970s. Country’s favorite “outlaw” copped a string of No. 1 hits in 1977 (“Luckenbach, Texas” and “The Wurlitzer Prize”) and 1978 (“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and “I’ve Always Been Crazy”). Waylon kept the momentum going with the release of “Amanda” in April 1979.

However, before we get to the ascent of “Amanda,” let’s take a look back at her curiously interesting upbringing.

Bob Pens a Hit

Songwriting legend Bob McDill penned “Amanda” in 1973. McDill is the man behind a number of classic country hits, including Don Williams’ “Say It Again,” Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” and Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country,” among others.

In fact, Don Williams recorded more that 20 songs penned by McDill in the 1970s. In addition, Bobby Bare recorded an entire album of McDill cuts in 1979, Me and McDill.

McDill penned “Amanda” in 1973, and he took the track to Waylon’s office, but the outlaw was out. So, McDill left the demo with Waylon’s receptionist. However, for one reason or another, the tune failed to make its way to Waylon. However, “Amanda” did make its way to Don Williams, who recorded the song for his 1973 debut album, Don Williams: Volume One.

After Don released the album’s second single, “Come Early Morning,” it reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. On the B-Side to the sophomore single was “Amanda,” which subsequently garnered radio airplay and became a Top 40 hit for Williams. In the 1970s, it wasn’t uncommon for B-Sides to get some spins after—or during—the promotional effort and radio airplay of the A-Side.

Waylon Finds ‘Amanda’

As the story goes, Waylon Jennings heard Don’s version of “Amanda” on the radio and called McDill. “That’s the story of my life, Hoss,” said Waylon. “Why didn’t you give me that song?”

McDill explained his previous effort with the receptionist, and Waylon vowed to record the tune.

True to his word, Waylon recorded “Amanda” on his 1974 album, The Ramblin’ Man. However, Waylon never released the album version as an official single. Fast forward to 1979, and Waylon released his first Greatest Hits album. As expected, the project featured 10 of Waylon’s biggest hits, with a curiously selected 11th tune: “Amanda,” which had been slightly revamped with an overdub to the original version.

“Amanda” was released as an official single in April 1979. The tune shot up the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, reaching No. 1 on June 30. “Amanda” stayed at No. 1 for three weeks, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year. And if you’re curious, Greatest Hits is Waylon’s best-selling album of all time. It has been certified 5X Platinum by the RIAA for sales of 5 million units.