Billy Joe Shaver’s Final Performance

It’s almost eerie how when it comes to the death of certain country legends, circumstances and premonitions align in a way that makes it seem like they knew something way before the rest of us did. It’s partly because so much of country music is about addressing mortality, and trying to make sense of the heartbreak felt when someone passes. From “When The Circle Be Unbroken,” to “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” to “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” country music was made for remembering people in their passing. But there also might be something deeper at work as well.

Such was the case for Billy Joe Shaver, who died on October 28th after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 81. Though Shaver is arguably best known for all those songs Waylon Jennings covered on his 1973 landmark record Honky Tonk Heroes, real Billy Joe Shaver fans know that his signature song is “Live Forever,” co-written with his son Eddy.

The song holds special significance since Eddy passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2000. Eddy Shaver wasn’t just Billy Joe’s son. He was a well-respected guitar player who along with being Billy Joe’s right hand man, played with Dwight Yoakam, Waylon Jennings, and others during his brief career. He died at the age of 39. Billy Joe always brought up his son before playing “Live Forever.”

Over the last few years, guitar player Jeremy Lynn Woodall had stepped up into that spot once occupied by Eddy as both Billy Joe’s guitar player, and also right hand man, helping to keep Shaver on the road, and his legacy in the spotlight during the later portions of his life and career.

Like so many performers, Billy Joe Shaver was sidelined for most of 2020 due to COVID-19, but in April Jeremy Lynn Woodall stopped by Billy Joe Shaver’s house to record a video of him and Billy Joe playing a performance for a local radio station. Recorded in Billy Joe’s kitchen, it was the country legend’s final performance. Only appropriate it was a rendition of “Live Forever.”

“Just like the songs I leave behind me, I’m gonna live forever now…”

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