Billy Joe Shaver died on October 28. He was a true outlaw. I won’t go back over his outlaw resume—I covered most of it in a post last year. The outlaw country music movement Mount Rushmore only has two faces on it—Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. But Billy Joe Shaver is in the second-tier of the movement, one short step back from Willie and Waylon. He wrote most of the songs on Waylon’s landmark outlaw country album Honky Tonk Heroes. His album Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which shares four songs with Honky Tonk Heroes, is a part of outlaw country canon in its own right.
Billy Joe had a recording career, but he really made his mark as a writer. And boy could he write.
“When the Devil made that women, Lord he threw the pattern away. She was built for speed, with the tools you need, to make a new fool every day.”
And ain’t this the truth? “The Devil made me do it the first time. The second time I done it on my own.”
Billy Joe sure could write them, but couldn’t nobody deliver a song like Waylon. This is 100% a Billy Joe Shaver song, though, autobiographical of his own roadhouse raising.
“There weren’t another other way to be. Lovable losers and no-account boozers and honky tonk heroes like me.”