“There’s an angel missing in heaven and his name is Allen Reynolds,” Garth Brooks told author Patsi Bale Cox in 1990. In the early Nineties, Brooks, with Reynolds as his producer, was on one of the hottest streaks in country-music history, topping the charts, earning dozens of industry honors, and selling tens of millions of records. But in spite of Brooks’ assertion, Reynolds didn’t just suddenly appear out of the ether. He had been toiling in his own Music Row studio for a couple of decades, and was also an accomplished songwriter whose tunes include one of the most beautifully heart-wrenching country ballads of all time, “Dreaming My Dreams With You.” During an afternoon recording session on September 3rd, 1974, 45 years ago today, Waylon Jennings cut his version of the song that would serve as the inspiration for the title of his first Gold-certified LP.
In the summer of 1974, Allen Reynolds recorded the first version of “Dreaming My Dreams With You” at Jack Tracks, the 16th Avenue studio owned by legendary producer and songwriter Jack Clement. Having arrived in Nashville from Memphis in the early Seventies to write for Clement’s publishing company, Reynolds and other writers had been pestering Clement to open a studio where they could record their demos. Reynolds would eventually become Clement’s partner in the studio and by 1976 would take full ownership of it, buying out Clement’s share.
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Two months after Reynolds cut “Dreaming My Dreams With You,” Waylon Jennings would lay down his version a few blocks away at Glaser Sound Studios, the recording facility on 19th Avenue South that had been nicknamed “Hillbilly Central.” The studio, opened in 1969 by Tompall Glaser and the Glaser Brothers would be the birthplace of the “Outlaw” movement, a term coined by music journalist Hazel Smith, who was working as publicist for the Glaser Brothers at the time. Jennings was, of course, a chief architect of the outlaw subgenre, due in part to his refusal to adhere to some of more stringent demands placed on him and other artists by RCA, his record label.
“Dreaming My Dreams With You” was hardly one of Jennings’ more “outlaw” efforts, however. Rife with devastating loss and regret, yet expressing as much hope as it can muster through the passing of tears and time, Jennings would record the track in a single take that afternoon. Accompanied by legends including Charlie McCoy on harmonica, Buddy Spicher on fiddle, Kenny Malone on drums, an overdub session in November would add piano and a string session to the track, which would be released the following summer as the first single from Dreaming My Dreams. The single would reach the Top Ten.
Recorded that same day was a very different-sounding tune for Jennings, and one that ground to a halt due to a misunderstanding between artist and producer. In his autobiography, Jennings recalls that while recording the uptempo “Waymore’s Blues,” the true-to-life tune that gets its title from Jennings’ nickname, he grew frustrated and concerned that his wife Jessi Colter and Clement’s wife Sharon were distracting Clement in the control room. His paranoia fueled by drug use, Jennings walked out on the session. Although they revisited the song, they couldn’t recapture the feel of the first take, which explains the abrupt fade-out on the released version of a song that has become one of Jennings’ best-loved.
In 1985, Jennings was a guest on Austin City Limits, where he performed “Dreaming My Dreams With You” and introduced it by saying, “I guess this is my favorite song I ever recorded.” The song certainly found favor with other artists. In October 1975, Crystal Gayle, who would soon become a huge crossover artist with Allen Reynolds producing her, cut a version of it. A month later, English rock icon Marianne Faithfull, backed by Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, also recorded it (as “Dreamin’ My Dreams”) for a country album heavily influenced by Reynolds and Jennings and featuring several of their songs. Her version of the song topped the Irish charts. Other notable versions included one by Australian singer Colleen Hewett in 1979, Cowboy Junkies in 1988, Collin Raye in 1994, and Alison Krauss for her 1999 solo LP Forget About It. In this century, it has been recorded by Cowboy Jack Clement, Patty Loveless, Mark Chesnutt, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Jamey Johnson, and John Prine and Kathy Mattea.