Waylon Jennings' People In Dallas Got Hair.
In 1972, Willie Nelson left Nashville to permanently relocate to Austin, Texas. There, he became one of the first figures to unite southern redneck country fans with a growing group of rock-loving hippies.
But, truth is, what Nelson discovered in the '70s, native Texan Waylon Jennings had already begun to notice years before. Although Jennings' “People in Dallas Got Hair” song about good-natured North Texas hippies wasn't released in the United States until its inclusion on the 2006 Nashville Rebel box set, it was actually written and originally recorded in the late '60s.
In the song, the well-traveled Jennings makes his way all across the country, only to be disillusioned by the inferior ways of living and subpar treatment he experienced when crossing the state line.
Each time, he longed to return to Dallas.
Sometimes, we can learn a lot about ourselves when taking a step back and comparing ourselves to others — just as Jennings did in his song.
The first city to get a mention in the tune is New Orleans, where, despite the water they've got boiling (a reference to cooking crawfish perhaps?), they're still looking for things that they haven't got, and Jennings purports that they could get if they only came to Dallas.
It's a bit cryptic, sure, but it could be a subtle indicator to New Orleans' high poverty rates. For instance, the median annual household income is $27,000 in New Orleans, and just $19,000 in their poorest neighborhood, the Lower 9th Ward.
That number jumps to nearly $40,000 when one lives in Dallas. Furthermore, unemployment rates are nine percent in New Orleans, and 14 percent in the Lower 9th Ward, but only 6.7 percent in Dallas.
Next, he ventures to New York City, a “town without pity and known for its lack of love.”
There, he discovers a breed of humans so uncaring that there is no use calling for help when you are “bawling” because New Yorkers would only “give you a shove.”
The polar opposite, monetarily speaking, from New Orleans, New York City is often referred to as the “financial capital of the world.”
But, according to research by a team of University of California, Berkeley psychologists, the more wealth one accrues, the less they are able to recognize the emotions of others, the less able they are to feel compassion and the less likely they are to notice when others are in need of help.
Sure, we Dallasites are unfortunately a less compassionate bunch than, say, the folks in New Orleans, but we're still loads more caring than New Yorkers, whose median annual household income is $55,000.
We have to think, at the very least, we'd notice someone on the street that was crying and begging for help.
Despite being warned not to visit, Jennings then makes his way out to California where he was tipped off about all the lawyers who would try to sue him. Though it's no New Jersey, California does find itself listed annually among the top 10 most litigious states in the country, averaging 1.4 million lawsuits each year.
Jennings argues that Dallas is much more laid back. He has a point: Since the '90s, Texas has been on the forefront of fighting against frivolous lawsuits. We simply cannot be bothered to have our time wasted here.
The last city Jennings mentions is Chicago, a town where he was “beat up” and where he wishes he was warned about their “people's army.”
A nod to the armies in places like Vietnam at the time, we choose to believe Jennings was referencing the prevalence of organized crime throughout Chicago's history.
Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters of all time, was, of course, from Chicago. And, at the time when this song was written, Sam Giancana was not only alleged to have help rig the 1960 presidential election to help secure a victory for John F. Kennedy, but he was also involved in a plot involving the CIA to help assassinate Fidel Castro.
While Dallas was not immune to organized crime, its involvement was on a much smaller scale. And, when Joseph Civello died in 1970, it was the end for the Dallas Crime Family, for all intents and purposes, although Joseph Campisi (who opened his Egyptian Lounge in 1949) was said to have taken over the operation. His ties to Jack Ruby and the Lee Harvey Oswald assassination may serve as truth to these allegations. Since Campisi's death in 1990, there hasn't been much known Dallas mob activity. Organized criminal activity in Chicago, meanwhile, is still a thing (see: Mob Wives: Chicago).
As opposed to each of these other cities, Dallas, Jennings says, is the “hometown of those who care,” and where “people are good [and] kind,” all of which may or may not have something to do with our hair, he says.
In any case, with their shared affinity for the “cosmic cowboy” set, it's no wonder that Nelson and Jennings eventually teamed up to form the band The Outlaws with Tompall Glaser and Jennings' wife Jessi Colter.
And with the genre's crossover popularity, it makes complete sense that their '76 album would become the first million-selling country album.