Waylon Jennings is almost unrecognizable in this early performance. A fresh-faced and clean-cut Jennings performs his song “Mental Revenge” live in 1966.
In the 1950s and 1960s, slicked-back hair was in style. And Jennings wore the look as well as other musicians of his time like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Later in the 1970s, Jennings would grow his hair and beard long in his iconic style that screamed outlaw country.
During the song, Jenning’s narrator is hoping to get a little mental revenge on a lover that did him wrong. During the song, he laments his heartbreak due to her leaving him for another man. The narrator imagines scenarios where his lover and also her new beau suffer karmic justice.
For instance, he wishes that a train coming from “Caribou Maine” will run the two over as an act of revenge. The tune also examines these daydreams as a way for the narrator to cope with his pain.
Waylon Jennings Performed the Song Before it Released
Jennings’ performance pre-dates the release of the tune itself by a year. Songwriter Mel Tillis wrote the song hoping to turn a dime with the tune. But his recording failed to capture the public attention in the way that he hoped. Once Jennings got his hands on the tune, he managed to turn it into lyrical gold.
Jennings included the song as a single on his 10th album “Jewels,” which he released in 1968. Upon debut, the song proved to be a rousing success and moved up to No. 12 on the charts. Inspired by Jennings’ success, Tillis re-released the tune almost a decade later. This time the artist had more success, and the tune landed No. 15 on the charts.