The main strength of Will Hoover’s "Freedom to Stay" is the lyrics, which convey the dilemma of a man whose restlessness pulls against his desire to feel grounded in a solid relationship.
A good song like that can be adapted for any kind of artist covering it, and there are three studio versions to prove that point.
The iconic Waylon Jennings first included it on his classic 1973 album "Lonesome, On’ry and Mean." It has an easy lope to it that suits Jennings’ unforced baritone, the arrangement filled out with what would be the standard "outlaw" country pairing of harmonica and pedal steel guitar.
Soon after, on her "Country My Way" album, Tina Turner flipped the wanderer’s gender and brought to the song a soulful female perspective. Her take is absolutely terrific, expansive in its string and horn arrangements. She makes the song her own and attacks the chorus with a determined R&B ferocity.
In June, platinum-selling countrypolitan star Mark Chesnutt, on his "Outlaw" album, took a reverent, neo-traditionalist tone to Hoover’s song, offering a well-produced and carefully modulated performance with the typical trappings of fiddle and pedal steel.
"This is my favorite Waylon song," Chesnutt said in a video posted on YouTube that includes a performance of "Freedom to Stay."
"(It’s) probably more personal to me than any other song that I’ve recorded. It’s right there, you know, and it tells the truth."
The Jennings and Turner covers are available at iLike, Rhapsody and Pandora.