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Billy Joe Shaver - Greatest Hits

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Billy Joe Shaver - Greatest Hits

Billy Joe Shaver - Greatest Hits

Compadre Records
Bottom Line:

What's left to be said about Billy Joe Shaver that hasn't been said already? He's the poet of the people, a rangy, crusty, hard-bitten fellow who's seen some hard times and come through like the trooper he is - a survivor of the first water, who never once shies away from taking his own advice, as when he says "if at first you don't succeed, just try and try again" in his distinctive, homely voice, as comfortable as listening to your own grandfather picking guitar on the back porch. Shaver's never had it easy, but maybe that's what colors his honest, plain-spoken lyrics.

Not too long ago, I was talking music with someone and I mentioned Billy Joe Shaver. I was asked, "Oh? What did he do?" To my eternal shame, I absolutely drew a blank. It's not like I don't know Shaver's songs. Good God, I've listened to and sung many of them since I was a little girl. I managed to stammer out, "Honky Tonk Heroes" and a bunch of songs for Waylon Jennings. Not a good answer. It was a little while later my brain opened up the doors and I was filled with that sense of "oh, DUH" that strikes after a particularly dumb moment. "Old Chunk of Coal." "I Couldn't Be Me Without You." "That's What She Said Last Night." "Ride Me Down Easy." "You Asked Me To." "Old Five and Dimers." Could anything be easier? And those are just the big hit songs that appear on this disc. There's oh, so many more. But this is all they could cram onto a single disc, and I always appreciate those who make full use of a CD's capabilities. There are 18 tracks on this disc, some of them recorded live, capturing the very best of Billy Joe's own recordings of his own songs, as well as bright spots of his personality as he talks to his audience about what he's singing. Even if you've never heard Billy Joe sing himself, you have heard his songs. Maybe Bobby Bare, or John Anderson, or Waylon, or Johnny Cash, or Elvis Presley, or one of the many, many others who've committed his words to prosperity. Now's your chance to get to hear Billy Joe do 'em himself.
Billy Joe's not a great vocalist - many of these poetical souls put their words first - but his voice is real and honest, with great passion and conviction, and I like it. His voice is so rich and so full of the joys and sorrows that Billy Joe's lived through - when he sings about love, or loss, or just picking yourself up by your bootstraps and getting ON with your life, you can just hear it. It's in his inflection, in his attitude, in every nuance of every note. More than that, Billy Joe LIKES to sing. He just sounds like a guy who's having fun with his music. Even songs which could be sad seem to have a bit of uplift, like the deeply poignant "Freedom's Child" feels uplifting. Billy Joe Shaver has seen more heartache and pain in his life than just about anyone in the world ought to go through. In these last few years he's taken that heartache and turned himself into one of the more visible representatives of pure Texas music, his songs appearing just about everywhere with everyone wanting to sing them - there's even a duet with current country "bad boys" Big & Rich (which got the 60+ Billy Joe exposure on CMT, even), on "Live Forever." It just goes to show he's completely right when he says "If at first you don't succeed, just try and try again; and if all you do is lose you better find a way to win." He doesn't have to worry about "someday." Billy Joe Shaver is a diamond now.

Song List

  1. Good Ol' USA
  2. Georgia on a Fast Train
  3. Freedom's Child
  4. Try and Try Again
  5. Old Chunk of Coal
  6. Step on Up (w/Eddy Shaver)
  7. Honky Tonk Heroes
  8. Hottest Thing in Town
  9. That's What She Said Last Night
  10. When Fallen Angels Fly
  11. I Couldn't Be Me Without You
  12. Black Rose
  13. Light a Candle For Me
  14. Ride Me Down Easy
  15. Melody
  16. Old Five and Dimers
  17. You Asked Me To
  18. Live Forever (w/Big & Rich)
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