Don Williams was an American country singer, songwriter and 2010 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame….who began his solo career in 1971 singing popular ballads and amassing 17 x # 1 country hits. His straightforward yet smooth bass-baritone voice, soft tones, and imposing build earned him the nickname of the “Gentle Giant” of country music
In 1979, Waylon Jennings was scheduled to release a new album titled “Tennessee Waltz,” but everyone involved in the project agreed that it didn’t have a hit single. In order to meet the schedule, RCA pulled the album….but used the same cover on a “Greatest Hits” release. It was one of the first “best of” packages to feature a single that had not yet been issued. The song was “Amanda,” a tune Jennings recorded in 1974 for his “Ramblin’ Man” album. The version that was released as a single in 1979….was the same track from ’74…..but with one line overdubbed….when it makes reference to Waylon’s age as being “over thirty and still wearing jeans,” …..whereas in the original was updated to “crowdin’ forty,” (actually Jennings was 42 at the time of the song’s single release). Other than that one-line modification, it’s the same cut.
Waylon’s version of “Amanda” on the “Ramblin’ Man” album wasn’t the first appearance of the song, however. Don Williams recorded it as the “B” side of his 1973 single “Come Early Morning.” The “A” side went to #12, while “Amanda” earned airplay as well, reaching #33. Songwriter Bob McDill describes the song as an “apology to my wife,” but even before Williams’ recording attracted attention…. McDill had approached Jennings with it. He took “Amanda” over to Waylon’s office, but he was out. So Bob left the song at the front desk telling the receptionist to make sure Waylon heard it when he got back, but he never did.
After Don Williams’ cut started getting played, Waylon heard it on the radio and called McDill, saying “That’s the story of my life, Hoss. Why didn’t you give me that song?” Bob told him, “If you look on your receptionist’s desk, I’ll bet you’ll find a copy of it. I tried my best,” to which Waylon replied, “Well, I’m gonna record it someday anyway,”…..and the following year he was true to his word. After “Amanda” came out in single form….which vaulted to # 1 in just six weeks….while reaching that plateau on June 30, 1979 ….where it stayed for three weeks.
Jennings’ “Greatest Hits” package, meanwhile, enjoyed an unusual chart life. The record debuted in Billboard on May 5, 1979, reaching # 1 on June 2nd. It remained in the Top Five for over a year, up to July 5, 1980. The album spent fifteen weeks at number one during 1979, and on May 31, 1980 it returned to the top of the chart more than a year after its release. By 1984, Jennings’ “Greatest Hits” became the first country album to sell four million units