Johnny Cash once called him "my favorite songwriter," and Waylon Jennings recorded nearly an entire album (Honky Tonk Heroes
) of his material in 1973--lots of folks insist that was the first true "outlaw" record. Billy Joe Shaver, whose "Old Chunk of Coal," "Georgia on a Fast Train," and "Old Five and Dimers" rank as standards of Texas singer-songwriter lore, is closer to his 70th birthday than his 60th, but he still burns it down on stage, and he still lives the soulful, close-to-the-bone life of his impoverished, raggedy-ass youth. These days, it would be easy for the five-time Grammy nominee to lean on his woeful personal story--growing up picking cotton and dropping out of school in the eighth grade, then losing his wife, mother, and guitarist son, Eddy, in a matter of months at the turn of the millennium. Instead, he continues to challenge himself in his writing. This collection of his best-loved songs (it's erroneous to call them "hits") contains a driving live rendition of "Georgia" and two new offerings (the remarkable love song "Light a Candle for Me" and the tongue-in-cheek "Melody") as well as some lubricated on-stage preaching and storytelling. (It also reprises his unfortunate duet with Big & Rich on "Live Forever"... but let's pretend that never happened.) Shaver's singing remains an acquired taste, rivaling a rusty barn-door latch rattling in the wind. Yet in the age of Pro-Tooled prettiness, authenticity never sounded more welcome. --Alanna Nash
Known as the 'outlaw Poet Laureate', Billy Joe Shaver has had his songs covered by an impressive list of performers including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few. Throughout his career, Shaver has release 15 albums. His latest, The Real Deal, garnered some of his highest critical praise to date including appearances on NPR's 'Fresh Air,' DBS's '60 Minutes,' 'Imus in the Morning'. Greatest Hits features `Try and Try Again,' Shaver's fervent reminder about the power of persistence and the previously unreleased 'Melody,' which was produced by roots music producing legend R.S. Field. A best of collection of Shaver's songs wouldn't be complete without his biographical roadhouse romp, 'Georgia on a Fast Train,' and his message of redemption, 'Old Chunk of Coal.' Greatest Hits is a perfect primer for new Billy Joe Shaver fans and a must have for lifeline devotees.