Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver
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Billy Joe Shaver never became a household name, but his songs -- including "Good Christian Soldier," "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me," and "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train" -- became country standards during the '70s and his reputation among musicians and critics didn't diminish during the ensuing decades. One of the best synopses of Shaver's upbringing is his own song, "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train." When he sings, "my grandma's old-age pension is the reason that I'm standing here today," he ain't kidding. The "good Christian raising" and "eighth grade education" -- not to mention being abandoned by his parents shortly after being born, working on his uncles' farms instead of going to high school, and losing part of his fingers during a job at a sawmill -- are all part of his life story. "I got all my country learning," he sings, "picking cotton, raising hell, and bailing hay." Shaver did a quick turn in the Navy and worked a series of nowhere jobs (including the one in the sawmill) before trying his luck in Nashville. After several back and forth trips between Texas and Tennessee that gained him no response, he appeared one day in 1968 in Bobby Bare's Nashville office, where he convinced Bare to listen to him play. Bare ended up giving him a writing job. Shaver recorded one song for Mercury, "Chicken on the Ground," which went nowhere, but soon his songs began to see the light thanks to Kris Kristofferson ("Good Christian Soldier"), Tom T. Hall ("Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me"), Bare ("Ride Me Down Easy"), and later, the Allman Brothers ("Sweet Mama") and Elvis Presley ("You Asked Me To"). Shaver's real breakthrough, though, came in 1973 when Waylon Jennings recorded an album composed almost entirely of Shaver's songs, Honky Tonk Heroes -- largely considered the first true "outlaw" album. Shaver's debut album was Old Five and Dimers Like Me, produced by Kristofferson and released by Monument (Kristofferson's label) in 1973. Along with the title track, it contained the now-classic Shaver songs "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me" and the aforementioned "Georgia on a Fast Train." Shaver switched to MGM a year later, but no album materialized. "Raising hell" was, as he had sung, part of his lifestyle at the time, and it kept him out of sight for a couple years. In 1976 Shaver resurfaced with When I Get My Wings on Capricorn, and followed it up a year later with Gypsy Boy. In 1978 Johnny Cash recorded "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Some Day)," a song Shaver wrote just after he chose to give up drugs and booze and turned to God for help. Religious references do crop up his songs (including "Chunk of Coal"), but they never dominate the emotions or get in the way of the earthy rhythms and melodies. Shaver switched labels again, this time to Columbia, in 1980, and recorded three more albums during the next decade: I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal, Billy Joe Shaver, and Salt of the Earth. The latter was produced by Shaver with his son, Eddy, who has played on every Billy Joe record since Old Chunk of Coal (he also toured in Dwight Yoakam's band in the 1980s). After a few more years out of the spotlight, Billy Joe returned once again in 1993, this time recording under the name Shaver. Tramp on Your Street, released on Zoo/Praxis, featured Eddy on lead guitar and Billy Joe's own raspy but lovable voice, and coming out during a time when hunky hat acts where the new flavor in Nashville, it was quickly recognized as one of the strongest and hardest country records to hit the shelves in many years. Shaver toured regularly over the next couple of years and recorded a live album for Zoo, Unshaven, in 1995, but was dropped by the label a year later. Victory followed on the New West label in 1998, with Electric Shaver appearing a year later. The rock-oriented Earth Rolls On appeared in spring 2001. His next four albums, Freedom's Child (2002), the emotional Billy and the Kid (which saw Shaver singing songs written by his late son, Eddy Shaver) (2004), Real Deal (2005), and Everybody's Brother (2007), were all released on the Compadre label. 2007 also saw the release of Storyteller, a live set recorded in 1992, on Sugar Hill Records.
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07/13/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver recovering after minor heart surgery - Read More
06/22/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver Brings the Texas Out California Way - Read More
06/15/2010 - Country music outlaw Billy Joe Shaver uses music as his therapy - Read More
06/15/2010 - Billy Joe Shaver Enters Plea In Firearms Case  - Read More
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01/01/2007 - Bily Joe Shaver Q&A - Read More
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Average Rating : 0              Total Reviews: 48

Billy Joe Shaver  09/28/2007            
Music Expert
This guy is a legend! Nuff said!!
Billy Joe Shaver  06/23/2007            
Billy Joe Shaver  04/03/2007            
At-a-Boy Billy Joe....Here's to Billy Joe...He don't run or dial 911. SHOT HIM AGAIN!!!!
Billy Joe Shaver  08/16/2006            
The first time you listen to this you'll be hooked. The second time it's bound to become your favorite CD. There is a reason Billy Joe Shaver is the king of the honkey tonk cowboys, this is roots music done extremly well. This should be required listening for all aspiring players.
Billy Joe Shaver  05/31/2006            
Once again you were terrific, Billy Joe, This is my second time seeing you at the Granada theatre in Dallas. I love the fact that you are really a people's people and intereact with the crowd after the shows. Love you and God Bless you.
Billy Joe Shaver  04/05/2006            
Brian Christopher
This is one of the very best singer/songwriters. I love his CD and its a must have for any honest music lover that appreciates great lyrics. I saw him in concert dec 05 with wade bowen, honeybrowne, randy rogers, roger creager, jason boland in a singer/songwriter night in houston. And i never seen anyone put down their guitar and just go crazy singing. This man has it all, heart, soul, and much more that any singer/songwriter can learn from. love it! Keep on keep'in on!
Billy Joe Shaver  12/20/2005            
If you had to play this CD with an old fashion needle, mine would be worn through and through. This collection of songs fits just about any situation an old codger like me can imagine. Buy this CD it is an investment in mental satisfaction. Git-it now
Billy Joe Shaver  11/29/2005            
Good CD but I don't know why BJS would let Big And Rich sing about "dreaming of angels and sunshine" in one of his best songs, "live forever."
Billy Joe Shaver  11/23/2005            
chunk of coal too
Best live CD I've ever owned.I must have bought four in the last two years.
Billy Joe Shaver  11/17/2005            
I just saw the video "I'm gonna live forever" it was great, caught my attention right away Great.
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