Sometimes, the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame Board of Governors lets one slip through the cracks. Such is the case with the long-overdue induction of true country music outlaw Billy Joe Shaver.
I have explained why Billy Joe Shaver is cooler than you'll ever be before (and pointed you to a good career summation here), so I'll keep this relatively brief.
The first time I saw Billy Joe Shaver was completely unexpected, as he was the unadvertised opening act at Elmira's Clemens Center, where my friend Bryan and I had headed on a schoolnight in college to slip in among the elderly of Elmira to see Willie Nelson from second-row seats. Since no one was expecting Mr. Shaver and most of the crowd had rigid bedtimes, he was fighting an uphill battle. But he handled it like a champ. When the inevitable "Where's Willie?" shout came from the crowd, Mr. Shaver answered with the completely illogical but perfectly right reply, "If he was up your ass, you'd know where he was." And thus, two new Billy Joe Shaver fans were created.
Shaver's set was short that night in Elmira, but I've been lucky enough to see him a few times since and have never left disappointed. Each show has had its fair share of chaos (such as the one where he gave his drummer a few bucks and told him to leave if he wanted to...he did) and an equal amount of brilliance. There are probably a handful of people whose shows leave me as happy as Mr. Shaver's do, and none of them feature a man in his late 60s shadow boxing and shaking with the fervor of a Pentecostal preacher.
Mr. Shaver was recently indicted on felony charges for allegedly shooting a guy at a bar in Lorena, Texas (Dale Watson wrote a song about it and what Mr. Shaver allegedly asked the man he shot). I aint saying he did it, and if he did, I aint saying it's right. What I am saying is that this incident and about a thousand others prove that Billy Joe Shaver is a bona fide badass.
And now he is a member of the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame.
Here are some YouTube clips of Billy Joe in action:
"Georgia on a Fast Train" (with his late son Eddy)
"Try and Try Again"
Billy Joe the storyteller