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Road Goes on Forever

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Audio CD, April 4, 1995
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Don Was, the producer who transformed Bonnie Raitt from cult hero to pop star, tried to jump-start the stalled careers of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings by producing their recent albums, Across the Borderline and Waymore's Blues (Part II), respectively. This resulted in two artistic triumphs but no hits. That didn't deter Nelson and Jennings from hiring Was to produce their album with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson as the Highwaymen. The Road Goes on Forever is easily the best of the three Highwaymen albums, even if changing radio tastes will probably doom it to the poorest sales of the three. The two earlier releases, 1985's Highwaymen and 1990's Highwaymen 2, were thrown together as if the sheer starpower of the four singers could carry the project. Both albums had their exciting moments when everything clicked but both also had a lot of filler. By contrast, Was approached the new recording as if every song and every arrangement had to be good enough to be a single. He picked one obscure but terrific composition from each of the four singers and supplemented them with equally strong material from four of Texas's best songwriters--Steve Earle, Billy Joe Shaver, Stephen Bruton, and Robert Earl Keen Jr. Nelson's harmonica ace Mickey Raphael and Kristofferson's singing buddy Billy Swan are joined by top L.A. session pros like keyboardist Benmont Tench and drummer Kenny Aronoff to create a sound that has the twangy picking of old-fashioned country and the fat bottom of modern pop. The result is an album with everything: first-rate material, grade-A playing, and inimitable singing. The thread that ties Nelson, Jennings, Cash, and Kristofferson together is the crustiness of their voices (a honey-voiced singer like George Jones or Don Gibson would seem out of place in this crowd); when they sing Shaver's "(I'm Going To) Live Forever," they sound as if they're more than halfway there. The Highwaymen are so naturally hard-bitten and world-weary that they can slip a little sentiment into a song without spoiling it. They use this to great advantage on the album's two great outlaw songs, Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand" and Keen's title tune; the gruff tales of violence lead up to a sobering admission of the price paid for such a life. That same gruffness allows the Highwaymen to sing two religious meditations, Jennings's "I Do Believe" and Cash's "Death and Hell," without once sounding sanctimonious. --Geoffrey Himes


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 4, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B000002TNZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,409 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By ----Susan D. Fong on November 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I just received this CD yesterday and it has not left my CD player. I LOVE all the tracks and I especially enjoyed the BONUS DVD. I miss this group so much. There will NEVER be another group like them. Their four voices blended together so BEAUTIFULLY. If you are a HIGHWAYMEN fan, you will LOVE this CD and if you are a fan of good music, I highly recommend purchasing this CD. May you RIP Johnny and Waylon.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson came together as the Highwaymen in the mid-eighties to record an album and tour together. It proved so successful that they eventually recorded two more, this being the last of the trilogy. It is similar in style to the first two.

Most of the songs here are covers, often of songs that one or other of the members had written recorded as a solo artist. The set opens with a Steve Earle song, The devil's right hand, which gets the album off to a great start. I do believe (written by Waylon), End of understanding (written by Willie), Death and Hell (written by Johnny and June) and Here comes that rainbow again (written by Kris) ensure that all the members of the Highwaymen get a share of the songwriting royalties as well as the recording royalties.

Elvis once recorded True love travels on a gravel ro0ad (a Dallas Frazier song), but it's not one of his famous recordings. I like his version but I also like the Highwaymen's version. Billie Joe Shaver, who provided Waylon with most of the songs for one of his classic albums (Honky tonk heroes), wrote Live forever. Kevin Welch, who established himself as a songwriter long before making it as a singer, wrote Everyone gets crazy. Stephen Bruton wrote one song (Waiting for a long time) and co-wrote another (It is what it is). Robert Earl Keen, who eventually got the chance to record his own music, contributed the title track.

There are no real surprises here - you know who Johnny, Willie, Waylon and Kris are, you know the kind of music they record and you'll find it here. All four singers have recorded many more important albums than this but if you've already got their important music and still want more, you'll enjoy this album.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "jay_cav" on April 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I like this album. It is really over-produced, though. The song selection was very good - and the Highwaymen seem really energized on this record. The only thing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars...is the production. Too often there is so much going on musically in the song that I can't hear Waylon or Willie - and I get distracted by whatever sounds Don Was has thrown in there. As far as I am concerned, when you get this kind of talent together - you need to just get out of the way.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Each of the four amazing talents here blend togetehr seemlessly creating the best of The Highwaymen albums. Each singer is also showcased individually on four different songs proving that they can stand on their own as well. The singing and songwriting on this album is really heartfelt and shines through in every sense. Not a minute of wasted space on this one. If you like any of the four Johnny, Willie, Kris, or Waylon, you will love this album!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on January 5, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Waylon, Willie, Cash and Kristofferson met for this third and final collaboration in 1995, and given their proven chemistry, the presence of producer Don Was, and an outstanding selection of material, this should have been the supergroup's ultimate statement. Unfortunately, Was mired the quartet in modern arrangements that were at odds with the their aging, world-weary vocals, and have aged poorly in the intervening decade. The material often outshines the performances, with contemporary Texas classics from Earle, Shaver and Keene failing to find compelling new ground here. The artists connect most fully on their own compositions, including Jennings' gruff balance of faith, responsibility and self-determination, "I Do Believe," Cash's florid story of a visit with a New Orleans' prostitute, "Death and Hell," and Kristofferson's crufty "Here Comes That Rainbow Again."

This tenth-anniversary reissue's must-buy value is derived from the five acoustic demo bonus tracks. Listening to the legends audition songs for their compadres gives one an inkling of the album that could've been. "Live Forever" finds Cash tapping his foot as Nelson picks along to find his part, and Jennings' "I Ain't Song" is interrupted by Kristofferson's gut-busting laugh as the former sing-speaks "I ain't old and I ain't bitter, and I ain't mad at anyone." Kristofferson bangs out "Closer to the Bone" on his guitar as Cash's baritone resonates underneath, and Nelson turns "Pick up the Tempo" into a singalong. There's magic in these interpersonal relationships, it just didn't turn up on all the studio tracks. 3 stars for the original album, but an extra half-star for the bonus tracks. [©2006 hyperbolium dot com]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DanD VINE VOICE on June 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
There's no disputing that Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson are four of the most influential singer/songwriters in any musical genre. That they all happen to inhabit country music is a minor miracle in and of itself. That you can put the four men into one studio without their egos colliding is another.
"The Road Goes On Forever" is a great album, as you might expect. I would've given it five stars, had more of the guys' own material been present. As is, Waylon sings his moving "I Do Believe," Willie romps through "The End of Understanding," Cash braves his haunting "Death and Hell", and Kristofferson sings of redemption and human kindness in "Here Comes That Rainbow Again."
The other songs, too, are of top notch quality--don't get me wrong about that. "It Is What It Is" had to've been written especially for these guys to sing; Steve Earle's superb "The Devil's Right Hand" is given a new--but respectful--arrangement; "Live Forever" and "Everyone Gets Crazy" have a reminiscent quality that is as moving as it is listenable.
"The Road Goes On Forever" combines four of music's best--the Big Four, we shall call them--and features some of their best performances. Though Cash and Waylon have passed on, this and other Highwaymen albums, shows that although they were great on their own, they were something special when they got together with their two good friends, Willie and Kristofferson. The Highwaymen will never be again, sadly (at least not in this original lineup; I don't care who gets together to take their place), but this album is a testament to their creativity and lasting influence on both each other and the music industry in general.
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