Willie Nelson Reflects on Billy Joe Shaver’s Death, Shares Audio from 2012 Conversation

by Charles Craighill
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In the wake of Billy Joe Shaver’s death yesterday, Willie Nelson offered his condolences on Twitter with an audio file. The sound clip is from 2012 when Shaver and Jamey Johnson called into his radio show, Willie’s Roadhouse. In their conversation, Nelson calls Shaver “one of my heroes,” referring to the inspiration to his 2012 album, Heroes.

Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, and Jamey Johnson all collaborated of the title song, “Hero” of that 2012 album. While his album Heroes had a wide variety of features, Shaver, Johnson, and Nelson were somewhat frequent collaborators. Nelson and Shaver performed “On the Road Again” live in Austin, Texas in 2006 along with several others. Later on, they worked together on the song “Hard to be an Outlaw” in 2014. Johnson and Nelson were also fairly frequent artistic collaborators, totaling 15 songs together.

“You and me are kind of like the canary and the Mayan,” Nelson remarks in the conversation. “They kind of watch us to see how long we will keep breathing.” Unfortunately, Billy Joe Shaver quit breathing at 81 after suffering from a stroke earlier yesterday. The outlaw-country singer was responsible for most of the songs on Waylon Jenning’s 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes, and had songs recorded by country stars from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson.

Nelson’s words from 2012 ring true for many country artists, as his legacy and lifestyle, inspired many current greats. For over half a century, Billy Joe Shaver led the genre with his songwriting and lifestyle. From his wild lyrics to his equally as wildlife, Billy Joe Shaver will always be remembered as a country music hero.

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