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  12/10/2002            
wow, Billy Joe is the best, and Freedom's Child rocks!
Billy Joe Shaver  11/20/2002            
brian deal
Another outstanding album by a true Texas Legend. Billy Joe does it again through all life has dealt him he continues to get back up and deliver great songs. His voice is still strong and he delivers the the song perfectly as always. Some of my favorite cuts are "Deja Blues" with Todd Snider "Day by Day" and That's what She Said Last Night" alot like a Shaver song to me. My Favorite is probably "hold On To Yours" Go Buy this album if your a fan of Billy Joe or just great Texas music. [email protected]
Billy Joe Shaver  11/15/2002            
no one rocks harder than billy joe shaver
Billy Joe Shaver  04/02/2001            
Jeff Hopson
I'm rating this album a "5 Star" without ever having heard it, which may seem a bit precotious, but I've heard all the others and simply can't wait to get my hands on this one. I think one of the most intimidating things a man could face in this life is to attempt to be a "Texas singer/songwriter" while lost in the immense shadows of giants like Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, etc. What one should realise is that these guys, at one time felt lost in the shadows of the giants before them, and at the front of the pack stands one Billy Joe Shaver, who casts a shadow that reaches across a couple generations of singer/songwriters. I am forever in awe of the man's fathomless well of talent while remaining a humble individual in an industry full of egos. I feel the new album will certainly be a fitting tribute and testament to the guitar genius of Eddy and his enormous contribution to the Shaver sound. Long Live Shaver !!
Billy Joe Shaver  02/23/2001            
Greg Gardner
Billy Joe Shaver is one of the most talented songwriters of our time. Billy Joe has never got the recognition he has deserved, as being a walkin, talkin, livin legend. Billy Joe has written and recorded some of the most honest music of the day, and he has gotten where he is at not by Daddy's money and getting the popular producer, but by talent, hard work, and perseverence. I love every album he has recorded, especially Shaver Unshaven. This is my favorite album of all time, and the best recorded live album I have ever heard. This album captured shaver's energy, showcasing the awesome talent of Eddy, and the wonderful songs and voice of Billy Joe. If you don't have a handful of shaver albums you need to buy them right now, Trust me.
Billy Joe Shaver  02/16/2001            
What a great artist. So sorry to here about your son Eddy. I was really looking forward to seeing him play. God be with you.
Billy Joe Shaver  02/07/2001            
A true Texas legend that is only one of a handfull that actually deserves the designation. Shaver is a personal favorite and always will be. Eddy will be thoroughly missed, but never forgotten. Any album by this band is worth them all.
Billy Joe Shaver  06/29/2000            
Ronnie Hill
an unparalled songwriter that can make the listener feel his songs.
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