He almost died by the hand of his father while he was still in his mother's womb. He's lost parts of three fingers, broke his back, suffered a heart attack and a quadruple bypass, had a steel plate put in his neck and 136 stitches in his head, fought drugs and booze, and buried his wife, son, and mother in the span of one year.
He's Billy Joe Shaver, and he doesn't just sing outlaw country songs, he lives them. And here are three of his greatest albums plus a non-LP single side, everything he recorded for the Columbia label from 1981-1987.
1981's I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (but I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday) is bookended by couple of stone-cold Shaver classics, the title tune and "The Road," but the whole album comes from place deep in the soul, with Billy Joe's son Eddy providing the guitar heat. That release has been out of print for years; Shaver's next album, 1982's self-titled Billy Joe Shaver, has never been on CD, an oversight particularly inexplicable since it was something of a greatest hits album featuring starkly compelling interpretations of such enduring Shaver songs as "Old Five and Dimers Like Me," "Been to Georgia on a Fast Train," "Ride Me Down Easy" and "How Many Hearts Must You Break." Finally, 1987's Salt of the Earth was his first album of new material in six years and his last recording for another six; it neatly sums up Shaver's world view by placing the songs "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ" and "The Devil Made Me Do It the First Time" back to back! It, too, has been out of print for years.
Our Real Gone collection of these essential country music albums features the original album artwork to all three plus notes by Austin Chronicle writer Doug Freeman featuring quotes from Shaver himself. Remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios, Billy Joe Shaver: The Complete Columbia Recordings presents 31 tracks of pure Texas outlaw country from a man larger than life.