• Sara Spears

Struggle Jennings - Episode Transcription

Updated: 2 days ago

Walk the Line Intro: [00:00:00] You have a collect call from Taylor an inmate at the Washington Correctional Center. To accept the call press 5.

Taylor Conley: [00:00:33] There's nothing like waking up to the sound of clacking and buzzing as the doors crack in the morning after count clears, waking up to the reality of life in prison. For some, it's just a stop along their journey, a mile post, an experience. For others, it is a revolving door, in and out, in and out. And that's the way of life, stuck in the cycle pulling and eating away at them.

And then for some it becomes their destination as the hammer came down and that judge issued ‘em a death sentence The slow way, by way of life in prison.

This is the Life of a Lifer by Taylor Conley.

Hello friends and family, welcome. Thank you for joining us today. This is Taylor Conley on the Life of a Lifer, the realist podcast coming straight from the pod. I'm serving life without parole and refused to give up or be forgotten. We all have the story to tell and this platform is where you'll hear the other side of the coin.

Most people don't give it much thought as to what happens years later to the people who have had the key thrown away on them. That's including me. This can't be the answer, especially when so many like myself were young into the age of adolescent. I've done so much in the face of adversity and I'm the founder of Designed Conviction. We have created this social enterprise to provide a platform for those who are doing positive works, and we're promoting the stories that change from inside these walls in the barbwire riddle fences. All the way to the outside on the street. We've got two magazine publications, one that goes inside and one that goes outside, so subscribe and check it out at designconviction.com.

Last weekend, my wife and cousin Annie, went out to our friends Struggle Jennings show, the grandson of legendary outlaw country star, Waylon Jennings at the Ponderosa in Portland, Oregon. You can check out more and see pictures from the show on my wife's Instagram at @wifeofalifer. They got to hang out with him and his amazing daughter and see the phenomenal performance, meet his crew and just a cool ass bunch of folks that were touring across the West coast, Struggle and his daughter Brianna Harness with Trap Deville, did the album Angels and Outlaws. Later on, we were able to meet up with him in Seattle at the gym after he was working out, and I was able to get the chance to talk to him. As we're about to release the first project after Designed Conviction's entertainment label, the Free Taylor Project, which I wrote in prison with my good friend Caleb Twidwell over the last five years ago, and was able to get Caleb into the studio to record the tracks just recently. I also threw on there some spoken word poems that I put together at the time when we had a music program inside of the prison, but that got shut down. So I look forward to this coming out & check out the freetaylorproject.com to ch- to see more from this.

I want to give a special thanks, shout out to our sponsor, Jerry. Logan. He's believed in us, he's believed in the vision since the beginning and his contributions have made it possible and helped us along the way to keep this thing going. He believes in the ability of change because like I said, myself, I'm living proof of it and he sees that and like so many others, he wasn't necessarily aware that Washington state, where we're located at does not have a parole system. Just like so many other States. Jerry's about to launch a new pilot called Jerry's Rides. You should check it out. It should be coming out mid to late February, I believe, and be sure to be sure to look into it. It's talking about cars, he's, he's got, you know, some pretty, pretty nice whips, man. Look at it on Jerrysrides.com if you want to learn more about Jerry, you can find him also online on- on the TV show Bitchin' Rides with Dave Kindig who built his famous copper caddy. I had the opportunity to write a song about the copper caddy I wrote a copper caddy song, and currently we're working on, on getting that put together and produced and everything. So stay tuned for that and we'll let you know more when that develops.

Right now, I'd like to take the chance to play the single, we dropped off the Free Taylor Project. It's called So Cold featuring Caleb Twidwell by Designed Conviction, you can find it on all the major outlets, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube. We just shot the video for it and we'll be releasing it in the near future along with the acoustic live version, it's pretty awesome. Caleb really did his thing on there, so stay tuned after the song and we're going to get into the interview with Struggle Jennings.

(Plays So Cold off the Free Taylor Project Album)

Man, that song gets me every time. It epitomizes my personal struggle is pouring my heart and soul out in the way of Caleb sings those words captures the meaning because he was right there with me through the trials and tribulations and helped me write that song and make it what it is.

As it resonates let's get into what we've got going on today. We've got a special guest here today. This man is on a mission to make an impact. And has a message to send with a story to tell. Please welcome the living legend. The one the only Struggle Jennings.

Struggle Jennings: [00:11:51] Yo.

Taylor Conley: [00:11:54] Hey man, are you there Struggle?

Struggle Jennings: [00:11:57] Yeah, man, how you doing?

Taylor Conley: [00:11:59] h-, I'm doing all right, man. Hey, I'm glad that I got a chance to catch up with you, brother. I know that you're busy, man, doing a lot of things out there.

Struggle Jennings: [00:12:09] Yeah, man. Always got time though, man. That's one thing I do is I make sure I make time to, uh, you know, be able to do stuff like this and talk and spread awareness, you know, for the guys that are in there, for the guys that are out, coming out for the families of the people that are locked down or coming home. So they understand really what, what they're dealing with. You know, and I, and I love what you're doing because you're giving awareness to the guys. you know, to not come in or to the ones, bringing awareness to the ones that were you know given too much time at too young of an age. Um, you know, so I feel like we're really aligned in what we do. Definitely.

Taylor Conley: [00:12:51] Absolutely, man. Because that's really the message that we're trying to spread, man. That there is another way to really go out there and get it. And not have to keep coming back to the penitentiary, man, you know, and not have to receive these life sentences. Like I got sentenced at 20 years old in 2006 to life without the possibility of parole, man, and uh, you know, it's not right that the way the system is set up, man, you know, and I know that you've done quite a bit of time yourself, you know.

Struggle Jennings: [00:13:20] Yeah they definitely, there's definitely going to work on the rehabilitation and they really need to take in consideration to, you know, where somebody's at in their life and the possibility of change. I think they've gotten so caught up or believing that change is impossible because of recidivism rates, because the people coming back. But instead if they brought more awareness to what it really takes to get out and to stay out, I feel like they'd have a better, those statistics would be different. And that's what I'm trying to do because you know, like I've seen so many of my people go back immediately just in and out, in and out, in and out. And you know, just because they'll get a timeline and they're like, man, I'm gonna do this I' m gonna to do that. You want to come home so motivated, but then they get these obstacles and shit doesn't it go right. They get frustrated and they just veer back into those same irrational beliefs or those same, you know, ways, too soon. You know, instead of just sticking it out and understanding. So you know really with my story, I came home three years ago, nothing, kids in foster care. Uh, my ex wife, you know, addicted to heroin out in the streets. She passed away this last year, um, due to an overdose, but I came home three years ago, absolutely nothing, kids in foster care, today, three years later, I'm traveling the world on the tour bus, I've got nine kids in my house, I got custody of all my kids, adopted two more, living in my home. You know, and I'm living proof that if you just keep pushing, man, that shit can work. Everything that you sit in that cell and dream about and plan and it'll work. You just can't get frustrated in here from the past. You know? And a lot of families get frustrated. A lot of families, you know, they're not as supportive cause they've heard the same stories, jail, cop, whatever. So I like to be able to give those families the same kind of motivation, like listen, they can do this. They're going to need your help. It doesn't mean you've got to give them a bunch of money. You just got to be there to push them, you know?

Taylor Conley: [00:15:26] Absolutely, man. And having the opportunities too man and, and, and having, you know, availability to different resources is a good thing too. But you gotta have that drive, man. And having those people that are there supportive. You know, and being able to have somebody to go to, I mean, that's, that's very important too, man.

Struggle Jennings: [00:15:46] Those guys that don't have anybody, you know, a lot of people get out and they burn every bridge that they have and they don't have anybody. I've seen that a lot too. But the reality is 90% of millionaires are self made, and self made means self-made. You know, they didn't have nobody. So...

Taylor Conley: [00:16:05] Absolutely.

Struggle Jennings: [00:16:06] Like it's possible man, there's so much opportunity out here. There's a lot of resources, there's a lot of programs. That shit too. If you lean on them, you know, it's just, the reality is it's just not giving up. Seeing the vision when it's nowhere in front of you and knowing, listen man, I've done made it through this and really not having feared to lose, cause a lot of people are scared to lose, but it's like, well, we just came from the bottom. We just came from prison. We just came from poverty. We just came from being homeless, whatever it was. And we made it past that. So worst case scenario, you get knocked back a little bit, but you still ain't down back at the bottom and you were comfortable there. So why be scared? Just keep pushing forward man to take those chances and fucking, you know, everything is possible bro.

Taylor Conley: [00:16:50] Absolutely man, I mean, look at me, man. I'm sitting in the penitentiary doing life without parole, man, and I got a magazine that, it goes across the country, bro to damn near every prison in the entire country. We got that magazine into brother and uh, you know we're really just trying to spread this word bro. And then we got another one, so what we do is we send them- we send the magazine, we've got the Inside Designed Conviction the Magazine goes out to all the prisons that we can get it into across the country, and we provide a platform man online, and we're going out to events and promoting what we're doing and promoting these people that are doing, trying to do something with their lives, but they just need a place to do it, man. They need the opportunity man. So we're trying to give them that opportunity, bro, and let them shine. We got the Outside Designed Conviction, the Magazine, so we feature those people that are really striving and trying to get it man, and really do something with their lives and to shine light on these very things that you're talking about man.

Struggle Jennings: [00:17:49] Yeah, man. It's amazing, bro, and listen, anyway that I can continue to help and they've got my people's contacts. Uh, I'm easy to get a hold of on Instagram so. Just let me know, man. And you know, I'm, I'm riding for the cause, so whatever it is that y'all need, um, on my end, you know, I'm a hundred percent down.

Taylor Conley: [00:18:08] That's what's up, bro. Absolutely, man, cause I do, I do music too. I write music, man, and I'm working on a project with Seth Anthony bro, and um, I would love to have you on it.

Struggle Jennings: [00:18:18] Yeah, yeah, I just did a song with him.

Taylor Conley: [00:18:21] Yeah, man. Yeah, I love that dude bro. He a, he's a good ass dude, man. And, uh, he really believes in it too, bro, the more people that we can get that really believe in it, the further this message is going to get spread out. Cause I mean, basically from the songs that I've heard of yours, you're a storyteller, man. And we're trying to, trying to get these stories out there, brother, you know? And uh. I got, I got a project I'm about to drop that I made with a, with a good friend of mine that I did time with who's an amazing singer. So I'm going to release that. The free Taylor Project, man. It's a compilation kind of different styles of music. There's country, there's some alternative. There's some rock in there. And then I got some spoken words, some poems. We used to have a music program to where we had a studio and uh, you know, I w I was able to record some stuff before they shut it down, but now that program's gone, except-

Struggle Jennings: [00:19:17] Yeah man, I wish they would do that man, I wish they were bring those back. I've never gotten in a facility that had one, you know, they had, we had a band room and we got to, you know, go in there-

Taylor Conley: [00:19:25] That's what it was basically, was a band room, but they had some recording equipment.

Struggle Jennings: [00:19:29] - in the fed, Because I did time in the state and the fed, so, uh, we had a great band room in the fed, but there was a couple facilities that had recording studios that we're like disappearing though, you know, and I believe that would be such an amazing outlet. Just like, you know, for me, I went in and I laid on the weight, I was 335 pounds. I was so out of shape, you know, that led insecurities and anger and you know, just poor health period. And so I went in there and I focused on health the most, and came out, you know, lost 120 pounds and came out and said that, that's like my reset, like even today, like they're sitting here talking to me right now. I'm in the gym in Seattle, you know, I just did sold out show in Portland last night. Uh, I didn't get to bed til four, but nine o'clock I'm back up and I'm in the gym, you know? So cause that's kind of my reset. That's how every day I get up and I get refocused, realigned, and, and you know, any tension or, or anything that I'm holding on to, I let it go here. So...

Taylor Conley: [00:20:38] That's an amazing philosophy to live by, man. You're really getting it, bro.

Struggle Jennings: [00:20:44] Ya, man. Definitely, we definitely. Uh, got a lot going on, man. And just, you know, this just came from hard working and faith, man. I believe in this, that you can, and then not allowing, not allowing those walls to still be around you when you get out. You know, there's a lot of us bringing walls with bro, a lot. A lot of my people, they tear those walls right out with them and you know, you can't do that. You've got to remember where you were. You got to remember the people that you were in there with, you know, to, to not get too comfortable or you'll end up right back. But at the same time, man a lot of... You've got to get out and, and just push man, forward motion.

Taylor Conley: [00:21:31] Absolutely, bro. Absolutely. Because if now you're going to go backwards, man, because you're either going forward or backwards, you're not going to be standing still.

Struggle Jennings: [00:21:42] Nope.

Taylor Conley: [00:21:46] Well, that's amazing, bro. I just want to, I want to ask you one question that I always ask everybody is, uh, what do you think about life sentences?

Struggle Jennings: [00:21:58] I think that, uh, I don't think that they're warranted 90% of the time, man I don't, I don't really feel like, I don't really feel like, like who is, who is to really make that decision that somebody can't change, that somebody can't turn away from where they've come from that somebody can't turn a negative into a positive, that somebody can't flip that switch and, and bring the light to the others that are trapped in that dark. So if you just give people life sentences, you're taking that away, you're taking that opportunity, you know? And it might be one of the reasons that we don't have heroes anymore man. There's not heroes out here dog. Like, you know, there's a few of us that are fighting that fight, but you know, I don't, I don't. I don't really know what to say to that man, except for I believe that, uh, nobody should be able to dictate or to, or to stop what God got to play. You know what I mean?

Taylor Conley: [00:23:05] Absolutely, man, because, uh, you know, my take on it is, is that everybody has...

Struggle Jennings: [00:23:10] bro, imagine if you got out right now. In the mind frame that you're in right now, what you can really do and how many lives you could save and how many people that you could get the turn away from that life of crime and not go to prison.

Taylor Conley: [00:23:27] That's, what I'm saying man

Struggle Jennings: [00:23:29] Just cause of what you been through, you know.

Taylor Conley: [00:23:30] That's what I'm saying, man. If I can talk to these kids that were in the same boats, that was in man, the same boats that you were in, you know, you were out there doing it, man. And I, I, I commend you bro. And, uh. I really want to put your story out there through what we're doing. So I hope that you'd be interested in, we can, we can put your story on the front page of our next, uh, our next edition man. Send it out to all the prisoners so they can hear about you, bro.

Struggle Jennings: [00:23:54] Let's do it. Let's do it, I'm with it. I appreciate it man. And keep your head high, bro. Keep your eyes wide, keep shining that light, man.

Taylor Conley: [00:24:05] All right, brother

Struggle Jennings: [00:24:06] Keep shining that light brother

Taylor Conley: [00:24:06] Thank you so much man for stopping by. And uh, I appreciate you.

It was an honor to have Struggle on the Life of the Lifer and the love you showed us brings a lot of hope. This man here is truly an inspiration to me. I appreciate all that he's doing for us, and I look forward to hearing struggle on our next project, man, that's so exciting. The soundtrack for the Life of Lifer. We got. Seth Anthony working on the project with us, so you know it's going to be hot, he's about to drop his new album, 2020 Vision. This is a hard working real ass dude, man who has supported everything we've done and we support everything that he's doing.

I look forward to all that's to come in this great year in 2020, I feel like big things are gonna happen. Man, I'd like to catch a few words from my wife Cecilia Conley. Tell us a bit about, you know, hanging out with Struggle and, and what she thought about him and, and how that went. You wanna tell us a little bit.

Cecilia Conley: [00:25:12] Hello? Yes, of course. And you have any questions?

Taylor Conley: [00:25:20] Oh, well, you know, from, from my experience, what I've gathered and everything and hanging out with the guy just via, through the phone and, and the conversations that we've had, the guy seems like he's really down to earth. What do you think?

Cecilia Conley: [00:25:34] Yes. I was really amazed how approachable he's really down to earth. Like really, he recognized me because I shared a picture on Instagram, with your hat of Free Taylor, and he was really open to hear what we were about. He was quite impressed with what we were doing and he really aligned. And he's up to the c, so that's like speaks a lot of me is like, even though he is making it, he hasn't forgotten about his family and friends that he left behind, but he was released 3 years ago.

Taylor Conley: [00:26:12] Yeah. That speaks volumes, I think, is that, you know when, when you don't forget where he comes from, but you keep moving forward and you're working towards making a difference. I think that that, that's amazing. Even with all the success that he has, he's still working towards making a difference.

Cecilia Conley: [00:26:31] Exactly.

I'm really, really impressed by him. And the lyrics speaks volumes too. So I am really excited too. Uh, moving forward, we'd all the fights that we have and see how we can fit together, you know?

Taylor Conley: [00:26:49] Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you for coming on here, sweetheart, and it's always good to hear from you. You can find you a follow you on wife of a lifer, right? On Instagram?

Cecilia Conley: [00:27:03] Yeah. wife of lifer. Yeah. Wife of a lifer. Yeah. I just opened my account like two weeks ago and It’s getting quite successful so, quite interesting.

Taylor Conley: [00:27:16] Well, you're pretty amazing. So I could only imagine. And yeah, check out more behind the scenes of what's going on at the Life of a Lifer @ the wife of a lifer. And she's going to be telling the story. So stay tuned because much more is to come. Thank you sweetheart, and thanks everybody for tuning in. You know, I would also, would you recommend people go to his shows? Because you should definitely see his show.

Cecilia Conley: [00:27:45] Yes. It's quite cool. I love it. I love the bands. I love everybody, like it it's something else, I really recommend that. Yes. Well, of course.

Taylor Conley: [00:27:58] He's got a live band he puts on a great performance. From what I understand, I got some video clips, man. I felt like I was right there. It was cool, man. I really, I really think that now he's touring right now. I believe he goes into Idaho. He's going to hit Montana, Colorado. Where else? Where was he going to, I think, I think he was going to a Salt Lake city, on his way back from Tennessee man. Yeah. If you listen in and you get a chance, definitely something that we recommend to go out and see Struggle. Sure. Real ass dude, man, check it out. He's got all kinds of new music out. This guy said he put out like five albums in the last year. I don't know anybody who works at hard, but this guy's doing it. Put on like a hundred and and 40 shows, 140 something shows in the last year. It's pretty amazing.

Cecilia Conley: [00:28:57] And we, I met him and the team then that the morning after the show and he was there doing it and making it like, this is not a stop. So it's totally unexplored nation. And I really hope that, he gets more way more in stuff because he deserved that. He's working pretty hard for that.

Taylor Conley: [00:29:20]

couldn't said it better myself, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you everybody for all the support that they show and thank everybody for behind the scenes that makes this thing happen. This is the podcast coming at you live from the pod till next week. Same time, same place. It's been real. This is Taylor Conley on the Life of a Lifer.

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