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Billy Joe Shaver Has Had an Interesting Life

On Friday, TDMB posted a blog about Pablo Casals. It led off with a quote in which he said that the life of one child is worth more to him than all of his music. Today, we’ll lead off with another quote. This one is from Billy Joe Shaver, and it was made when he was found not guilty of aggravated assault in 2010. He shot a man in a bar fight:

“Hopefully things will work out where we become friends enough so that he gives me back my bullet.”

I haven’t checked thoroughly, but it seems unlikely that Casals and Shaver played together.

Shaver certainly looks the part of the outlaw country style musician he is. However, it always is important to separate the legend from the real people, especially when the legend tends to line up with the image that will make the most money. Since Shaver became identified with outlaw country, he has reason to sound tougher than he is. But, perhaps, he indeed is a hard case.

What is clear is that Shaver has had an interesting life. He lost two fingers in a lumber mill accident, lost a son to heroin, married, divorced and remarried  the same woman “several times” (according to Wikipedia) and had songs recorded by Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffin, Dickie Betts, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall Elvis Presley and others. He even was immortalized in a song written by Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. He may or many not be tough. But it certainly is clear that he knows what he is doing.

Above is “Georgia on a Fast Train” and below is “Honky Tonk Heroes.”

Wikipedia, Rolling Stone, Twang Nation and Billy Shaver’s website were used to write this post. Photo: Giovanni Gallucci.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.