Whey Jennings is establishing himself as an artist on his own, but the influence his grandfather, Waylon Jennings, is still evident, both in his music and his life. Jennings, who used the time off the road in 2020 to get sober, saw the country music legend also battle addiction before getting clean in 1984 — a journey he thinks about often as he embraces his new, clean life.
“My grandfather’s influenced pretty much everything I’ve ever done in music, because I always think about how he did it,” Jennings tells Everything Nash. “And I’m wondering if it’s about the same mindset I’m in. I remember when my grandfather got sober, and he was really trying his best to do a new album, without the same dark edge on it. I’ve been thinking on it and thinking on it and thinking on it, and writing and writing and writing.
“And I don’t want to go too all the way right,” he adds. “I don’t want to stay in the dark. I want it to have a real impact on anybody. People who have been sober their whole life, people who have been sober for just a little bit. People who aren’t sober. I just want it to be something that my kids can enjoy. Something that everybody can enjoy.”
As part of his sobriety, Jennings is also leaning on his faith in a way he never has before. His spirituality might also be evident on his next record, scheduled to be released later this year.
“I feel like God is in my corner,” Jennings maintains. “I’ve really got a good relationship with God over this last year. I’ve always been a spiritual person, but I feel like I’m on the right side of spirituality now. Me and my guitar player, we have a few melodies we’re kicking around, and I’ve come up with the words for a few songs. I really need something that’s going to be whatever they needed to be. We’ve been working on it, and it should be out by the end of this year, I’d imagine.”
Jennings also has words of hope for others who struggle with addiction.
“I tell them all the same thing: you gotta want it,” Jennings urges. “You can go to rehab 90 times. If you don’t want it, it isn’t gonna stick. I reached my bottom. I was living in my van. I’ve lost everything, more than once now. And I’m just tired of failing. I want to succeed. So that’s what I’m trying to do these days.”
Jennings hopes his successful overcoming of addiction can serve as an inspiration to others.
“I’m a brand-new man, really,” Jennings says. “A lot of people who are following my career, they’ve seen my ups and downs and all arounds. But hopefully, it’s something everybody can be proud of. Maybe if I can make it out of the darkness, anybody can ’cause I was pretty dark. So hopefully it’ll be an inspiration to a lot of people, and hopefully a lot of people look at it like, it’s possible.”
Jennings is not only serving as an inspiration to his fans, but has also made his family incredibly proud of his successful overcoming of an addiction that plagued him for years.
“They’ve been really proud of me, and telling me that I’m doing the right thing, and to keep going,” Jennings says. “That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m not really ready to jump into everybody saying I’m a new man … I’m not like that. But it’s been a year, and I got the first year under my belt. I look forward to the next year, and the next year and the next year and the next year.”