Friday Five: Billy Joe Shaver
Yesterday was Billy Joe Shaver’s 73rd birthday, so today’s Friday Five is a belated celebration of his songwriting. Everyone from Tex Ritter to Bob Dylan to Patty Loveless has recorded his work, so it was a bit of an effort to pick five favorite Shaver covers from such an extensive list. What are yours?
5. John Hartford – “You Asked Me To”
“Let the world call me a fool / But if things are right with me and you / That’s all that matters and I’ll do / Anything you asked me to.” Now that’s how you write a love song. This one’s a Shaver-Waylon Jennings collaboration — who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall when those two were writing?
4. Willie Nelson – “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train”
Willie was made to sing this song.
3. Waylon Jennings – “Black Rose”
Shaver had a hand in all but one of the songs on Jennings’ 1973 seminal outlaw country album Honky Tonk Heroes. With lyrics like “The devil made me do it the first time / The second time I done it on my own,” it must have been pretty obvious back then that the unknown Shaver was a special songwriting talent.
2. Emmylou Harris – “Old Five and Dimers Like Me”
Tom T. Hall’s version was my favorite until I saw Harris sing this one the other night. She said it was a song she’d wanted to record for some time, but felt she had to wait until she was at least 60. Makes sense: “Middle-Aged Five and Dimers Like Me” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
1. Johnny Cash – “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”
Being this optimistic seems like a nice way to live. Better to become a diamond — or at least strive to become one — than stay a lump of coal in some engine room.
- Paul W Dennis: Tom T & Dixie Hall are good people and I wish them all the best through this difficult time
- Paul W Dennis: Actually , it is not. We have so thoroughly debased our language that it is no longer possible to praise …
- Leeann Ward: Sheesh, Paul, that's a random/strange dig!
- Jack Williams: After reading that New Yorker article, I canceled my pre-order of the Basement Tapes box set. I love Bob …
- Leeann Ward: Wow! How terrible for Dixie Hall and Tom.
- Ken Morton, Jr.: Another twisted collection of songs to put into the Friday Five Hall of Fame, Juli.
- Arlene: I'd have included "Omie Wise." Doc Watson's is the version I'm familiar with but I think it's been recorded by …
- luckyoldsun: I think the number one country murder ballad is "Frankie and Johnny"--by Jimmie. Also, how about "Delia's Gone" from Harry Belafonte …
- Juli Thanki: Colloquial use of "fantastic" as a synonym for "excellent" dates back to the 1930s. And if it's good enough for …
- Paul W Dennis: I think "Banks of The Ohio", "Miller's Cave" and "It's Nothing to Me" are far creepier than several of the …