Jennings made his name by flouting Nashville convention in a memorably willful way. Consequently, it's hard to fault him for venturing into seemingly inappropriate musical areas. He's covered everything from "Sweet Caroline" to "MacArthur Park" and gotten away with it on sheer chutzpah. So when this 1987 offering leads off with a very uncountry version of the Gerry Rafferty hit "Baker Street" and finds its way to the dated '70s tune "Chevy Van," you have to allow the man his moods. More importantly, HANGIN' TOUGH features Jennings' stout, unflappable vocal style and some interesting digressions from the usual country format.
Waylon perfectly articulates a unique romantic dilemma in "I Can't Help the Way I Don't Feel About You," emphasizing the irony of the situation. He manages a poignant take on cult hero Jesse Winchester's "Defying Gravity." Perhaps most impressive, though, is the unguarded melancholy so eloquently expressed in the quietly heartbreaking "Crying Don't Even Come Close." HANGIN' TOUGH isn't a definitive Waylon album, but it will reveal it's share of diamonds in the rough to hardcore fans.