41 years, 26 albums, 11 different record labels, and one Outlaw country legend who had never experienced a charting album beyond a mere blip on the Christian charts a few years ago …. until now. Billy Joe Shaver, and his first album in seven years entitled Long In The Tooth has gone where no other Billy Joe Shaver album has gone before—to the Top 20 of Billboard’s country album’s chart. Coming in at #19, it marks Shaver’s first entry in the album chart ever, and his placing at #157 in the all-genre category is his first appearance in that chart as well.
The news comes after a strong push for the album that sees Billy Joe’s old friend Willie Nelson lend his voice to the opening track, “Hard To Be An Outlaw”. Willie Nelson also featured two Billy Joe Shaver songs on his recent album Band of Brothers, fueling the flames of Shaver interest. Fans waited seven years for the 74-year-old Shaver to finally put out another album of original music, and Long In The Tooth finds Billy Joe sitting tall in the saddle, shouting and spitting, brandishing his fists and taking potshots, and shining in moments of unexpected sentimentality.
Billy Joe Shaver joins a resurgent crowd of country music greats who’ve enjoyed renewed chart success recently, including Willie Nelson whose Band of Brothers album became his first #1 in 28 years, and his highest showing ever on Billboard’s all genre Billboard 200 chart, coming in at #6. Dolly Parton’s May release Blue Smoke gave Dolly her first Top 10 on the Billboard 200 of her entire career when she came in at #6. She also charted at #2 on the Country Albums chart. Johnny Cash’s posthumous release of his lost album Out Among The Stars also saw surprising chart success, debuting at #1 in country, and #3 on the Billboard 200.
Why all the surprising chart success for older country music artists in 2014? It’s partly because the fans of older country music stars actually buy albums instead of streaming them online, or just downloading individual songs. This makes older artists more lucrative for labels, and allows the artists to outpace their much younger competition on the charts. It proves that country music’s older artists can deliver when they’re given a chance, even without radio play.
Meanwhile Willie Nelson’s Band of Brothers album remains in Billboard’s Top 25 of country albums for an eighth straight week, coming in at #22 this week.