The Gospel According to Billy Joe Shaver

I first heard about Billy Joe Shaver on XM radio a few years ago when their alternative country station played “If You Don’t Love Jesus, Go To Hell.”

…If you think you can kick my ass

Better move your foot mighty fast

I got Holy Ghost power and Ill really ring your bell

If you don’t love Jesus go to hell…

I have wanted to see Billy Joe ever since and I finally got to on Saturday night in Lafayette, IN. Thanks Mom and Pop productions!

Here’s a quick bio. 73 years old. Writer of over 500 songs, including songs made hits by Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, and the Allman Brothers. Abandoned by his parents as an infant. Didn’t make it past the 8th grade and worked on his uncle’s farm instead of going to high school. In 2007 was  found not guilty of aggravated assault after shooting a man in the face.   Joked the night of the acquittal that he wanted his bullet back.

The show Saturday night felt like a low-key revival, full of Jesus talk, outlaw country music, and micro-brews.  There were stories, like about the time he played russian roulette with an automatic handgun and survived. Good advice, especially about not giving money to addicts and how hard that might be. His own son and writing partner died of a heroin overdose in 2004. And he talked about being-born again.

“I am born again, but I’m worried about backsliding.  I just had to shoot that man.”

You can have your Billy Graham, I’ll take Billy Joe Shaver.

P.S. Check out this Rolling Stone interview from earlier this summer. 


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