Puremusic interview with Billy Joe Shaver

Hail a hero of the vanishing breed. Love them and listen to them now, their songs and their words. One day you look around and they're gone, all gone.

At 63, there can't be much that a road soldier like Billy Joe Shaver hasn't seen and hasn't done. He's received only a slice of the fame and recognition he deserves from the public at large, but his peers have always regarded and treated him highly. His songs have been cut by many a great singer and many a great writer, and when last year at the Americana Music Convention he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting, he said he'd never received an award before. In fact, he still refers to songwriting as his hobby.

He's seen tragedy and trials that would crush or wither lesser people, and threatened to take him down. In a two year period he lost his wife and his mother to cancer, his incredibly talented son and partner Eddy to an overdose, and he himself suffered a heart attack on stage in Texas. He was admittedly spiraling downward when his friend Kinky Friedman convinced him to join him on tour and got him back in the saddle, where he's remained, to say the least. He's done a slew of shows since, knocked out a brilliant and lauded recording with producer R.S. Field, "Freedom's Child," acted in his friend Robert Duvall's new film, and he's working on his autobiography.

He answered my questions with great humor and fraternity, and I was humbled by his self-effacing greatness. I felt really lucky just to talk to him, and it gives me great pleasure to share that conversation with you now, as the artist intended. He's one of the greatest we have, one of the greatest we ever had.  
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