Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a dreamer. With my dreams in sight, I make plans to see them through and one of the ways I do that is through my musical bucket list. That list consists of places I’d like to someday perform and artists I want to see perform. Over the years I’ve crossed a lot off that list, but despite my best efforts, there was one thing on that list that I had been unable to cross off, Billy Joe Shaver.
This goes without saying, but music is the beat of my heart and there are just certain artists that feed my soul like no other. Billy Joe Shaver is one of those artists. He is one of my favorite songwriters and he inspires me deeply with his words. I had been trying to get to one of his shows for years and even had tickets on a few occasions. But each time something would happen that kept me from seeing him. The first time Billy Joe was unable to perform due to an unexpected illness. The second time I was unable to get to the venue on account of a massive accident that closed down the interstate, trapping me in the mother of all traffic jams.
So you can imagine how excited I was when my best friend and musical soulmate, Jessica, sent me tickets to his upcoming show for my birthday. In the days leading up to the show, a smile painted my face with excitement and when the day finally arrived I woke up as happy as a kid on Christmas. It was actually happening, I was about to see my honky tonk hero!
I got to the venue early, claimed my spot near the stage, and with a Shiner Bock in hand I anxiously waited for Billy Joe. I made friends with the folks sitting around me and we sat swapping stories about Billy Joe and the ways his music had touched our lives. In that moment there were no strangers in the room, we were all friends. That’s the beautiful thing about music, it connects us.
Billy Joe walked on stage and I lost it like a teenage girl at an Elvis concert in the 50’s. He told stories that made me laugh and a few that made me cry. He sang all my favorite songs and a couple that I didn’t even know I loved. He had a presence so captivating and genuine that it felt like I was spending the evening catching up with a long-lost friend.
If you wonder why it is that I love Billy Joe Shaver so much it can be summed up with one word, honesty. His music reminds me that we all have a story to tell and there is great beauty in telling your story your own way. The best music comes from not concerning yourself with what's marketable, but rather with what is honest.
It has always been my intention as a writer and as a performer to bring honesty to everything I do and when that intention gets challenged, I look to my honky tonk heroes like a compass, keeping me pointed in the right direction. It's like Kris Kristofferson once sang “heroes happen when you need them".
Thanks for reading! I’ll see ya at the Opry!