Waylon Jennings ‘Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand’ Lyrics & Story Behind the Song

by Clayton Edwards
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Today, we remember Waylon Jennings as one of the originators of Outlaw Country. In some ways, Jennings lived the life of an outlaw. He lived life on his own terms and, later in his career, took the same approach to recording. One night, Waylon’s outlaw image, recording career, and hard living came together in a way that could have been disastrous. He was looking at a long prison sentence. Luckily for Waylon – and the country music world – a little teamwork and quick thinking pulled him out of the hot water he was in. Instead of getting a federal cocaine possession charge, Waylon Jennings came away with a song called “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand.”

Waylon Jennings released “Outlaw Bit” as the second single from his 1978 album I’ve Always Been Crazy. The single peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and has gone on to be one of his best-known songs.

“Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” by Waylon Jennings

Best Lines:They got me for possession of something that was gone”; “Was it singing through my nose that got me busted by the man”
Release Date: October 1978
Written By: Waylon Jennings
Produced By: Waylon Jennings, Richie Albright

Waylon Jennings and other people involved in the incident that inspired “Outlaw Bit” recounted the story several times. For instance, Jennings told the story behind the song during a documentary about his career. Additionally, Richie Albright shared his version of the events in an episode of Tales from the Tour Bus.

The Story Behind “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand”

In 1977, Waylon Jennings was every bit the Outlaw Country star we remember him as today. He was coming off of the success of Wanted: The Outlaws, country music’s first Platinum-selling album, and “Luckenbach, Texas” which was his biggest hit. Additionally, he was working on I’ve Always Been Crazy. At the same time, he had traded his pill habit for full-blown cocaine addiction.

During the documentary, Richie Albright revealed that Waylon Jennings asked him to find a pound of cocaine. The $30,000 price tag did nothing to deter him. About this, Waylon said, “I had gotten so bad into drugs that I was doing up $1,500 a day and was staying up 5,6,7 days.”

A member of Waylon’s team directed someone in New York to buy a kilo (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and ship it to the RCA studio that would be the setting for “Outlaw Bit.”

When the package arrived Waylon was in the booth overdubbing vocals for I’ve Always Been Crazy. The package hadn’t been in the building long when federal agents flooded the room.

Luckily for Waylon, the agents couldn’t see into the recording booth. Additionally, his longtime friend, drummer, and producer Richie Albright laid his hand on the talk back button on the board. This allowed Waylon to hear everything that was going on in the studio. Thinking quickly, Waylon tossed the package behind a baseboard in the booth.

The Quick Thinking That Allowed Waylon Jennings to Write “Outlaw Bit”

Richie Albright recalled that he asked the agents if they had a search warrant. The agents admitted that they didn’t but could get one. Albright told them, “While you get that search warrant, we’re going to keep workin’ here. It’s costing us $250 an hour.”

A moment later, Albright pressed the talk back button again and told Waylon, “I need to change that microphone. Hang on right there, I’m going to come change that microphone.” Then, he walked into the booth and moved some equipment around. More importantly, Richie grabbed the package and stuffed it into his pants before walking out.

About that time, Waylon’s booking manager came in. According to Albright, he was half drunk, yelling, and demanding to know why the studio was full of federal agents. This started a screaming match between Jennings and his manager. It was the distraction that Richie Albright needed to slip past the agents and head to the bathroom. “When they heard that thing flush, it was over,” Albright recalled. Waylon remembered that an agent asked him where the cocaine was. He replied, “If it ever was here, it ain’t no more.”

The feds arrested Waylon Jennings and charged him with possession of cocaine, but they later dropped the charges.

“Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” by Waylon Jennings – Lyrics

Verse
I’m for the law and order the way it should be
This song’s about the night they spent protecting you from me
Someone called us outlaws in some old magazine
And New York sent a posse down like I ain’t ever seen


Chorus
Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand
What started out to be a joke the law don’t understand
Was it singing through my nose that got me busted by the man
Maybe this here outlaw bit’s done got out of hand, out of hand


Verse
We were wrapped up in our music that’s why we never saw
The cars pull up the boys get out and the room filled up with law
They came boundin’ through the backdoor in the middle of a song
They got me for possession of something that was gone long gone


Chorus
Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand
What started out to be a joke the law don’t understand
Was it singing through my nose that got me busted by the man
Maybe this here outlaw bit’s done got out of hand out of hand
Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand
Out of hand

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