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.
- Jack WIlliams: Well, he says he's a classic honky tonk fan and apparently "had to" make a honky tonk album, but then …
- Leeann: I was disappointed to read JTE's take on country music too. I agree with the part about current country music, …
- luckyoldsun: Someone should do a feature on the current "next generation" sons-of-superstar country artists--Hank III, Shooter Jennings, Bobby Bare Jr., Dean …
- Jack: Not impressed by Justin Townes Earle's low view of country music.
- nm: Does anyone know whatever became of the album that Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer were going to do together?
- luckyoldsun: I'm not surprised. Artists who can't get seem to get a satisfactory deal with a commercial label always say how …
- Jack Williams: I'm a little surprised to hear of Shelby Lynne signing with another label, even if it is Rounder. She …
- A.B.: THREE new albums from Sturgill next year?! I'm excited for that!
- Keith Samuels: I can't wait to listen to the entire recording. What a treasure.
- numberonecountryfan: She did say the version of “How Do I Live” is the “country” version which was previously released to radio …