January 10

How Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson Made “Good Hearted Woman” Iconic


When Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson joined forces, the world expected nothing less than quality and brilliance. Luckily, we were never proven wrong when they’d written the hit song “Good Hearted Woman.”

In 1969, the two outlaw legends found themselves on a tour together. While staying at the Fort Worther Motel in Fort Worth, Texas, Jennings casually flipped through the television channels until a commercial promoting singer Tina Turner came out. The ad was talking about how Turner sang songs of “a good hearted woman loving two-timing men.”

Jennings had a spark of inspiration right then and there, thinking to himself: “What a great country song title that would be!”

He then started writing the song; however, he got stuck when he reached the chorus and he just could no longer work it out on his own. So, he brought it to Nelson, whom he found in the most unlikely place to write a song – in the middle of a poker game.

The two country superstars went on playing at the same time, expanding the lyrics of what would be one of their biggest hits. Nelson’s then-wife, Connie Koepke, wrote down the lyrics for them.

“She’s a good hearted woman in love with a good timin’ man. And she loves him in spite of his ways that she don’t understand. Through teardrops and laughter, they pass through this world hand in hand. A good hearted woman, lovin’ a good timin’ man,” the song goes.

The Success of “Good Hearted Woman” 

Waylon Jennings was the first to record “Good Hearted Woman” as the title track of his 1972 album, and it was a smash success, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs while No. 1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.

Three years later, Jennings followed up the original song’s success by releasing a duet version with Nelson. It ended up snagging the No. 1 spot on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs. The song also crossed over, peaking at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The duet version was then included on the 1976 compilation album Wanted: The Outlaws! – it was the first country album ever to sell a million copies.

The pair have performed the duet several times for eager crowds. You could say all the hard work of Jennings and Nelson was worth it, and it was rewarded during the 1976 Country Music Association Awards, bringing home the Single of the Year. 

Indeed, “Good Hearted Woman” took Jennings and Nelson to the mainstream audiences as they were being recognized nationwide.

Jennings’ wife, Jessi Colter, has also once revealed that it was “Good Hearted Woman” that relaunched Jennings’ faith in his own songwriting.

You can listen to the song in the video below.


Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson

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