It's time to celebrate one of the great honky-tonk heroes. An Americana legend and a Texas Country Music Hall of Fame member. We're talking about Billy Joe Shaver. The Texas-born guitarist, singer, and songwriter has written some of the greatest Outlaw Country songs of all time, both for himself and legends like Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. The man has written songs performed by Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, and Nanci Griffith.
Billy Joe Shaver songs (and his songwriting) are everywhere, even beyond country music. Heck, the man was mentioned in a Bob Dylan song. That's how beloved he is. Shaver even sings the theme to the Cartoon Network show Squidbillies. These days, Shaver is still cranking out new music. His 2014 album, Long in the Tooth, charted on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
Here are ten of his all-time best songs.
10. "Black Rose"
From Shaver's best album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which is considered a classic in the outlaw country genre, this song is one of the greats. Period.
9. "Ride Me Down Easy"
From his self-titled album released in 1982, Billy Joe's just asking for some merciful heartbreak. The song was also a hit for Bobby Bare.
8. "You Asked Me To"
7. "The Hottest Thing in Town"
From the album Tramp on Your Street...we'd tell you more but mostly you just have to watch this music video.
6. "Try and Try Again"
Recorded for the Texas icon's 1999 album Electric Shaver, "Try and Try Again" chronicles how Shaver's faith got him through in the wake of the death of his wife and son.
5. "Sweet Mama" (Featuring Eddy Shaver)
"Sweet Mama" is a tribute to Shaver's mother, who worked in Waco while Billy lived with his grandma. It's performed with his son (and guitarist) Eddy.
4. "Wacko from Waco" (Featuring Willie Nelson)
From the album of the same name, a more apt song title for Billy Joe Shaver does not exist. And Willie Nelson is involved, need we say more?
3. "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train"
Featured on Shaver's classic 1993 album Tramp On Your Street, this freight-train fast Shaver classic follows the country legend's hard-scrabble life.
2. "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)"
If this song doesn't give you hope, nothing will. The tune was also recorded by John Anderson in 1981.
1. "Live Forever"
No song signifies Shaver's songwriting prowess more than the powerful "Live Forever." The song, written by Shaver and his son Eddy, is a tribute to the singer-songwriter's Christian faith and has been recorded by Joe Ely, Pat Green, and more. Robert Duvall also performs the song in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges.
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