It takes a certain kind of man to shoot someone in a bar fight.
It takes a whole different type of man to fess up, surrender himself to the police, make bail and show up the next night to play an in-store show asking his fans to pray for him.
But that’s Billy Joe Shaver for you.
The 2007 event may scream the ending of a Lifetime movie even though it’s just one side of the singer, songwriter and country music renegade.
He’s been making music for over 35 years and is responsible for songs such as “Live Forever,” “Way Down Texas Way,” “I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train,” “Old Chunk of Coal” and “Old Five and Dimers Like Me.”
His tunes have been covered by everyone from legends like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to more contemporary artists like Widespread Panic, Nanci Griffith and Alison Krauss.
Even without the shooting in Lorena, his life is a story worth telling. Born in Corsicana and now living north of Austin in Waco, he’s spent most of his life in Texas.
After being in the Navy and trying work as a rodeo clown he worked in a lumber mill where he lost two fingers on his right hand in an accident.
He married his wife Brenda in 1963. They had a son, Eddie, who before his death of an overdose was a renowned guitarist and member of The Shavers with his father. BJ and Brenda divorced, and remarried three times.
He eventually got a songwriter job in Nashville and the attention got him a record deal of his own.
The losses of Brenda in 1999 to cancer and Eddie in 2000 were difficult, but Shaver himself almost died in 2001 when he had a heart attack on stage. After successful heart surgery he went back to music and has released five albums since including the Grammy nominated Everybody’s Brother in 2007.
Check out both the vintage Shaver on Old Five and Dimers Like Me and Honky Tonk Heroes and the more recent The Real Deal, Storyteller and Everybody’s Brother.
Enjoy the songs and as Billy Joe would say in the phrase he lent to Kinky Friedman’s gubernatorial race, “may the God of your choice bless you.”