Country Throwback: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings Nail ‘(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay’ Cover in 1982

by Matthew Wilson
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On their own, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings‘ music was legendary. But when they came together they could produce something both timeless and haunting.

The two Outlaw Country musicians performed a mesmerizing take on Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” that’s sure to leave fans a little weepy. The song has always been a sad one, not only because of real-life events. The tune’s up-tempo hides the tragic tale of the narrator letting his life slip away. Because he doesn’t know what he wants to do with himself. He tried for a fresh start in San Francisco, but he was unable to escape his ways.

Jennings and Nelson’s version strips away the song’s up-tempo. And the results are a devastating and perhaps nostalgic look at a life slowly slipping away. The two musicians are at their most somber and poetic throughout the song. Perhaps, Otis Redding would be proud.

Otis Redding Recorded the Song Shortly Before He Died

But Redding’s version is probably the more popular and widely known. The R&B and soul musician is considered to be by many one of the greatest singers of all time. He was a voice of a generation of black musicians pursuing music dreams in New York and Los Angeles. His music inspired countless other musicians that would follow him.

Besides its subject matter, “The Dock of the Bay” is an inherently sad song because it is Redding’s last. The artist recorded the hit just three days before he died. Since then, several musicians including Nelson and Jennings have paid homage to the musician with their covers.

Redding died in a plane crash on Dec. 10. He had been flying from Nashville to Madison, Wisconsin for a series of concerts. The plane went down only minutes away from its final destination. Posthumously, “The Dock of the Bay” became a certified hit and topped the music charts when it was released on Jan. 8, 1968.

Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings Covered the Song

In 1982, Nelson and Jennings joined forces to record their version of the classic song. This was just one of many duets the two had across their career. As pioneers of Outlaw Country, the two musicians even recorded an album of duets together. But for “The Dock of the Bay,” the song proved to be a modest success.

Upon released, the song peaked at No. 13 on the charts.

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