Honky-tonk hero, Americana legend and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame member Billy Joe Shaver wrote some of the greatest country songs of all time both for himself and legends like Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels and Nanci Griffith.
The Texas-born guitarist, singer and songwriter was a seminal member of the Outlaw Country movement. His songs (and his songwriting) are everywhere, even beyond country music. Heck, the man was mentioned in a Bob Dylan song ("I Feel a Change Comin' On.") Shaver even sang the theme to the Cartoon Network show Squidbillies. In 2014, his album Long in the Tooth charted on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
Here are ten of the best Billy Joe Shaver songs.
10. "Black Rose"
From one of Shaver's best albums, Old Five and Dimers Like Me (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 pulled 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 was 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.
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.