Billy Joe Shaver wrote ten of the eleven 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 1970s. He 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 Texas-sized influence on Texas music and especially Texas singer-songwriters, and is cited as a chief inspiration by at least two generations of artists. But although his influence has been profound, Shaver has the dubious honor of becoming, according to author Courtney S. Lennon, “country music’s unsung hero.”
In 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, in his foreword, calls “peaceful and pure, complex and convoluted, mad and merciful”—the musician who wrote “You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ” and “That’s What She Said Last Night,” “Honky Tonk Heroes,” and “Get Thee Behind Me Satan.” Based on in-depth interviews with Shaver and a host of notable singer-songwriters, this book reveals and celebrates the saint and the sinner, the earthy intellectual and the hard-drinking commoner, the poet and the cowboy.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press