The Dukes of Hazzard theme song is nearly as iconic as the classic TV show itself. Having a country music legend kick things off before watching Luke and Bo Duke (Tom Wopat and John Schneider) race around in their custom Dodge Charger, potentially joined by their cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) in her signature "Daisy Duke" shorts, really helped set the tone for the show as a whole.
Waylon Jennings was the narrator of the 1975 film Moonrunners which starred James Mitchum and Kiel Martin as two cousins running bootleg liquor for their Uncle Jesse. Warner Bros hit up writer and director Gy Waldron to see if he'd be interested in turning his story into a TV comedy. Fast forward four years and The Dukes of Hazzard quickly became one of the highest-rated shows on CBS, running for seven seasons. Waldron kept many of the same concepts from his original film, including some of the names (Uncle Jesse!) and the bootleg liquor theme (Bo and Luke Duke are cousins on probation for distilling moonshine). But most importantly, he brought Jennings with him to narrate the show as well as write and perform the theme song, "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)."
Similar to his role in Moonrunners, Jennings played the Balladeer throughout the series. He narrated each episode as well as provided playful commentary on the plot before the commercial breaks. Jennings also took the theme song (with a few tweaks) and released it as a single.
Waylon Jennings single version
"Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" was released as a single on Jennings' 1980 album, Music Man. Fans were immediately drawn to the song after recognizing it from the hit show. The single was a number one hit on the Hot Country Singles Chart and even reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.
But Jennings made a few changes to his version of the theme song before releasing it commercially. His third verse playfully comments on the fact that his role on the show is pretty much limited to offscreen.
You know my momma loves me
But she don't understand
They keep a showin' my hands
And not my face on TV
Jennings finally did make a physical appearance in the final season of the show due to popular demand from fans. The appropriately named episode, "Welcome, Waylon Jennings," introduces the country singer as a friend of the Duke family.
The Dukes of Hazzard version
While Jennings made his single a bit more personal in the final verse, the show's actual theme song tied into the show, with the third verse commenting on the two main Dukes, "Fightin' the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods" followed by a "Yeehaw" from Bo and Luke. It also included some banjo playin' that didn't make Jennings' track.
Which version do ya'll like better? Either way, The Dukes of Hazzard theme song gave us one of Waylon Jennings' signature songs, which will always be a classic.