Celebrating Billy Joe Shaver
Reviewed May 2005
A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver Live
By various artists
Compadre Records: 2005
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
The fact that Billy Joe Shaver has made it to 65 years of age is nothing short of amazing. He lived hard early on; lost his son, wife and mother in the course of a year's time; and nearly died himself of a heart attack. Here's a man who, had he died young, would be a cult hero on par with Gram Parsons and no doubt would be the subject of PBS specials.
Yet, Billy Joe Shaver was honored so rightly so by a bunch of Texas hooligans and songwriters last fall after officially reaching senior citizen status. Some of the songs on the album, recorded in Austin last fall, are classic Shaver "Georgia on a Fast Train," Dale Watson capturing the Shaver-Waylon Jennings tune "You Asked Me to," and Rodney Hayden doing "Black Rose" but it's the heartfelt spoken tributes that really make this 15-song record so compelling.
Most amazing is Todd Snider's tribute not only to Billy Joe, but the song he plays. "Waco Moon," was written shortly after son Eddy Shaver was found dead of a heroin overdose. Even more moving is the song's video clip at the end of the disc. Make sure tissues are close at hand. Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen and Jack Ingram offer similarly touching words before their musical tributes.
Cory Morrow oversings "Live Forever," and the Geezinslaws are a bit over the top and irreverent, but they're minor flaws. Billy Joe's made it to senior citizenship and all we can say is thank God for that.
Review by Rick Bell. Rick is a writer and editor living in Poway, Calif.