Country Throwback: Waylon Jennings Covers Tanya Tucker’s ‘Delta Dawn’ on 1972 Album

by Emily Morgan

Known as one of the most iconic songs in country music history, “Delta Dawn” became Tanya Tucker’s signature song. However, outlaw singer Waylon Jennings also recorded his version “Delta Dawn” on his 1972 album Ladies Love Outlaws. The album also contained his Top 40 duet with his wife and fellow outlaw country singer Jessi Colter, called “Under Your Spell Again.”

However, Waylon Jennings never released his version of “Delta Dawn” as a single, even though we’re sure it would’ve been a huge hit. His rough brooding voice is the perfect fit for the song since the piece includes dark themes. His hauntingly beautiful voice is powerful as he sings alone on the track.

Waylon Jennings’ Bone-Chilling Rendition

In addition, each chorus in the Jennings’ version features an eruption of ear-pleasing sounds. As the chorus begins, a full choir starts singing in the background. Albeit, Waylon Jennings’ voice stands alone as he sends shivers down your spine. 

The inspirational gospel-style would also work to the benefit the Australian singer Helen Reddy, who included the same choir-like elements in her rendition of “Delta Dawn.” Her version of the song went on to reach No. 1 on the country charts.

Former child star Larry Collins and songwriter Alex Harvey wrote “Delta Dawn.” Harvey was the first to record it. Harvey’s backup singers, Dianne Davidson and Tracy Nelson, each did their own cover of “Delta Dawn.” In addition, Bette Midler started including it in her sets and later recorded it for her premiere studio album, The Divine Miss M.

In 1972, Tucker released her version of “Delta Dawn.” Tucker was barely 13-years-old at the time of the release. Soon after, the rendition peeked at the sixth spot on the country chart, and it led to an array of artists releasing their covers, such as The Statler Brothers and Scott Walker.