Let’s Go to Luckenbach, Texas, and see Billy Joe Shaver on Saturday


San Antonio Express-News
John Goodspeed Sure you’ve heard Billy Joe Shaver’s songs sung by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and even Elvis Presley. But there’s nothing like hearing him sing his own songs, and that’s what makes Compadre Records’ “Billy Joe Shaver: Greatest Hits” a winning package, even though his own hits were far and few between.

There’re all there — “Georgia on a Fast Train,” “Old Chunk of Coal” and “Black Rose,” and fans can hear him sing a few live at Luckenbach on Saturday.

“I let the label pick the songs because — like everybody else, I’ve said this a million times and it’s true — your songs are like your children,” Shaver said by phone from his Waco home. “It’s like lining your kids up and trying to pick which one you like the best.”

The album makes listeners realize what a songwriter for the ages Shaver really is, with tunes such as “Honky Tonk Heroes” that Jennings recorded more than three decades ago still standing the test of time.

“I knew when I wrote them that they weren’t dated, they’d always be there,” the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member said. “I don’t really think about it, but I don’t write any songs I don’t think won’t work 100 years from now. I’ve been gifted like that since I was a kid writing poetry and stuff.”

Good thing for Shaver that he never tires of singing them.

“I heard Yul Brynner say something about ‘The King and I’ and I believe it to be true,” Shaver said. “Somebody asked him if he ever got tired of saying the same lines every night.

“He said no, I don’t, because there are different people in here every night and it’s a different chemistry. It’s different for them, different for me.

“And that’s so with me.”

But it’s difficult to keep a guy like Shaver looking backwards. He keeps talking about his next album, “Everybody’s Brother,” a gospel record, produced by John Carter Cash with duets including Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson and John Anderson.


“I’m so proud of it I’m about to bust. It’s the best work I’ve ever done,” Shaver said of the album, due Aug. 6. “It’s my kind of gospel; I guess you could call it honky-tonk gospel.

“I always have made people feel better about drinking, because Jesus did, too. Someone got onto him about drinking so much wine and hanging out with publicans and he said it’s not what goes in a man’s mouth that defiles him, it’s what comes out.”

Shaver agrees and goes a bit further, adding, “So drink up and watch what you say … and be careful driving home and don’t run over others.”

Shaver is touring with Jason McKenzie on drums, bassist David Carroll and Jeremy Woodall on guitar.

Shaver, who is facing charges in the wake of a shooting at a bar in a Waco suburb, said he couldn’t say much about the affair other than it was self-defense.

“But I got Jesus in my heart,” Shaver said. “I turned it over to God and I ain’t going to worry about it. Everything’s going to be all right. I’m still writing songs, and I’m happy.”



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