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  10/31/2004            
Billy Joe Shaver  09/15/2004            
Joel McCrary
This is as basic as it gets,Billy Joe,Eddy and thier guitars.Eddys playing is phoenominal as always and Billy Joes lyrics seem to really strike deep when presented in the all acoustic format.This album is one of my favorites from him and well recomended.
Billy Joe Shaver  09/15/2004            
Joel McCrary
This is as basic as it gets,Billy Joe,Eddy and thier guitars.Eddys playing is phoenominal as always and Billy Joes lyrics seem to really strike deep when presented in the all acoustic format.This album is one of my favorites from him and weel recomended.
Billy Joe Shaver  07/16/2004            
I havent even seen this yet and don't think i have to to give it five stars.
Billy Joe Shaver  02/27/2004            
I sit contemplating what to say, sorta speechless, yet my heart is filled with admiration and joy that I can say without a doubt Billy Joe Shaver is the best living songwriter today....Big words...Just do yourself a favor and pick up his latest Fredom's Child or his self titled Shaver and sit back and just listen to the melodys and the words..I dare anyone to find another songwriter with such eloquence to words of life, love, and death..Better yet find him live, the first time I saw him him was a couple a months after his son Eddy passed away (Eddy was Billy Joe's guitar player) there was not an empty crying eye in the room...Billy Joe live is as good as it gets, his heart his soul is transformed into making his shows dynamic in every sense..I hope the mainstream some day gets together and backs quote Billy Joe "Just like this old rockin chair, I sit but I'm gettin nowhere"
Billy Joe Shaver  12/11/2003            
he is
Billy Joe Shaver  08/03/2003            
Mark Hamilton
This cd is by far one of the best cds ive ever listen to in any type of music i've love this cd from the first time i heard it and still play it lots today.
Billy Joe Shaver  07/29/2003            
He is a fine, fine songwriter. I saw him at Blaine's Pub in San Angelo recently, which isn't the best venue to be HEARD (loud and rowdy crowd by the time the headliner comes on around 11p)but despite your typical inconsiderate falling-down-drunk- Blaine's Pub-late-night crowd, I was taken away by this well seasoned artist. And I do mean artist in every sense of the word.
Billy Joe Shaver  01/31/2003            
Mo Adlouni
I had been hearing a bunch about this new band, The Ghost of Electricity, and saw them at Momo's this week (1/27). What an interesting sound these guys have! Banjo, mandolin, cello, upright bass, percussion, and the usual guitars and drum kit combined for a sound that I have not heard around Austin lately. Some spanish influences were evident, both in the lyrics and the feels of the songs. These guys seem to be onto something that has been missing from from the Austin music scene that is innovative AND true. -MA
Billy Joe Shaver  12/23/2002            
Joel Reese
"Shaver" "The Earth Rolls On" An attempt to do "rock". Not what a long time fan expects from Billy Joe Shaver.
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