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Interview:
Billy Joe Shaver's getting "Long in the Tooth" with style
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Billy Joe Shaver's new album doesn't come out for another month, but he's already got a hit.

Willie Nelson recorded a version of Shaver`s "Hard to Be An Outlaw" for his new album "Band of Brothers," which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Country Albums charts last month. Nelson duets with Shaver on the song for the latter's "Long in the Tooth," which comes out Aug. 5, and the collaboration has already put some jet fuel behind the project.

"It's always great to work with Willie 'cause he's the master, man. He's The One," says the 74-year-old Texan, himself an iconic singer and songwriter credited with helping start the Outlaw Country movement. "I knew this was going to be a hit record, just like I knew (Waylon Jennings' 1973) 'Honky Tonk Heroes' album was gonna be a hit, and this feels even bigger than that.

"There's just something about (Nelson) that, when he does something, you know, 'Doggone it, it's gotta be good.' And thanks to that it looks like things are gonna be hotter for me now."

Shaver says that for "Long in the Tooth," his first new album in six years, "what I had in mind was writing the best songs I could possibly write." He's pleased to say he has many more than the 10 that made it to the album, which was produced by Nashville stalwarts Ray Kennedy and Gary Nicholson and, in addition to Nelson, also featured contributions by Leon Russell, Tony Joe White and others.

"It seemed like forever," Shaver says of the gap between albums. "I figured I'd die before I got another shot, but I'd be out playing live and run into all the old critics that had known me for years. I promised them I'd do an album of all new songs on it, and I did. And this one's good enough to get me back to do another one, I think, 'cause I've got the songs for it.

"That's all I want to do, really, is put out records so people can hear them, and I figure I better get to it before I run out of time, y'know?"

Billy Joe Shaver

8 p.m. Saturday, July 6

The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.

Tickets are $25.

Call 734-761-1800 or visit www.theark.org

Web Site: www.theark.org

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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