New book Billy Joe Shaver
‘Live Forever – The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver’
New Book About Outlaw Country Pioneer
Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver will be released through Texas A&M University Press (TAMU Press).
“Billy Joe Shaver was one of Texas’ greatest songwriters and a pillar of country music. “Live Forever is a testament to that.”Author Courtney S. Lennon
Billy Joe Shaver wrote nine of the ten songs included on Waylon Jennings’s landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes and played a dominant role in the origins and development of the outlaw country movement of the 1970’s.
With a catalogue that includes “Ride Me Down Easy,” “I Been to Georgia On a Fast Train,” “Honky Tonk Heroes” and “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”, Shaver has been named by Ray Wylie Hubbard, alongside Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, as a member of the “holy trinity” of Texas songwriters. He has exerted a huge influence on Texas music and especially Texas singer-songwriters, and is cited as a chief inspiration on generations of artists. But although his influence has been profound, Shaver has the dubious honour of becoming, according to author Courtney S. Lennon, “country music’s unsung hero.”
As well as Jennings, his songs have been recorded by The Allman Brothers, Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, to name a few. Bob Dylan mentioned Shaver in his song “I Feel a Change Comin’ On” on the album, Together Through Life (2009) – “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver, And I’m reading James Joyce”.
Shaver’s story was a colourful one – numerous marriages (“at least three to the same woman” he has claimed), two fingers cut off in a sawmill accident and his talented musician son Eddy passing away due to a heroin overdose. Billy, having been through some very dark times, turned to Christianity in his later years.
Courtney Lennon has spent over a decade as editor of online roots music magazine Turnstyled, Junkpiled. The book follows veteran Texas music author Brian T. Atkinson’s volumes in the Songwriting Legacy series on Shaver’s fellow Texas legends Van Zandt, Hubbard, Mickey Newbury and Roky Erickson.
In the media release for Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver:
“Lennon seeks to give Shaver the recognition his prolific output deserves. She unfolds for readers the complexity and the simplicity of the artist who wrote the songs that Brian T. Atkinson calls in his foreword, “peaceful and pure, complex and convoluted, mad and merciful,” while Bobby Bare declares, “Billy Joe was the real deal, the Texas outlaw.”
Based on in-depth interviews conducted prior to Shaver’s passing in 2020, Live Forever offers a host of iconic artists, singer-songwriters, road-worn veteran to up-and-coming musicians who were all impacted by Shaver’s life and songwriting, weaving together a story that revels and celebrates the saint and the sinner, the earthly intellectual and the hard-living commoner, the poet and the cowboy.
About Courtney Lennon
Lennon is the founder and Editor of Turnstyled, Junkpiled Music Magazine, which she started in 2011. She has written features on Ryan Bingham, Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Radney Foster, Dale Watson, Van Dyke Parks and Wanda Jackson, among others.
She is currently working on her next book, True Love Will Find You In The End: The Life and Music of Daniel Johnston (Texas A&M University Press), a biography on late singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston.
Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver is available for pre-order now HERE.
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New book Billy Joe Shaver