Last week I got to see a true Texas legend. Billy Joe Shaver. I didn't know I loved him so much, but I do. I left wishing I could just adopt him as my grandpa. He is a phenomenal story teller, not only in his lyrics, but in between songs too. I had no clue he wrote so many songs that I have been listening to all my life and just assumed Waylon or whoever made them famous wrote.
The crowd was small - way too small considering the legend that was on stage. But I guess in a bar where the majority of the crowd is college students, that would be expected. The crowd was a lot older than normal. Probably the most people my parents' age and older I've ever seen at Blue Light. There was only a handful of the regular crowd there which was fine by me because for the most part, the people there knew and respected Mr. Shaver. There was even a mother and daughter I met in the bathroom on vacation from Sweden. I asked them why the HELL they came to Lubbock from Sweden and they said they wanted to see Billy Joe Shaver. Badass.
He strolled on out and hopped up on stage at a time most people his age have already been in bed asleep for several hours. It amazes me that he is still going strong after all these years and the life he has lived. He said at one point his family thought he'd be the first to go, but he ended up losing his wife, son and mother in the same year. I read several biographies since seeing him last week and was reminded about what all the people in his generation have seen and lived through. If you do nothing else, read this biography, written in his own words. No wonder his songs and stories are so incredible.
Billy Joe started off telling us that he wouldn't be playing guitar too much because he's got a messed up should but said he "don't play worth a shit anyway." I should have done my research a little more because I had no idea he wrote "Honky Tonk Heros," and "Black Rose," one of my favorite Waylon songs. He also played songs that I knew from dudes like Jason Boland, Reckless Kelly, and Roger Creager.
He played everything from his oldest hits to newer stuff like "Wacko from Waco," which he told the full story beforehand and it just made me love him more. (You can read about it here.) He played "That's What She Said Last Night" TWICE because some drunk dude kept begging him to so he finally said "if I play it will you get out of my face??" This song is hilarious. A 70-something old man saying "that's what she said..." solid gold.
After writing songs for 40 years, he is still relevant with his songwriting and his first hits are still played or even covered by people of all ages every day. But he is so humble. The stories he tells about his personal life and career show a side of him that you may not expect. I saw a picture of him in the latest Texas Music magazine and he was wearing the exact same outfit he had on last week. Denim head-to-toe and even the exact same belt buckle, I swear.
I had no idea how much I would love and respect Billy Joe Shaver after this concert but as far as I'm concerned he's right up there with Willie. If you can, get out there and see him. You never know which show might be his last! (Just kidding, we all know he's going to live forever.)
ps - please ignore the weird donkey thing at the beginning of this...