“Live Forever” Book on Billy Joe Shaver’s Life & Songs Sets Release

Photo: Sandy Carson

An oral history on the life of songwriting legend Billy Joe Shaver will be released on July 21st. Called Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver, it is about Shaver’s life and songs told through his peers, friends, and disciples. Authored by Courtney S. Lennon, the book will feature contributions from Bobby Bare, Rodney Crowell, Ray Benson, Steve Earle, Elizabeth Cook, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Dale Watson, James McMurtry, Scott H. Biram, Dallas Moore, and Jessi Colter (who’s as close as you can get to Waylon’s perspective).

“‘Honky Tonk Heroes’ broke new ground,” Jessi Colter says about the landmark Waylon Jennings record that featured all Billy Joe Shaver songs but one. “[The album is] great American music and put Billy Joe on the map. I loved it immediately when the album was done. The songs are great, Texas primitive, genuine. ‘Honky Tonk Heroes’ became a remarkable milestone and is to this day, music about the working man, the man who hasn’t had it easy and has had to scrap for a living. Waylon loved doing those songs.”

Author Courtney S. Lennon has been a strong voice in the roots community via her website TurnstyledJunkpiled. Lennon is related to legendary songwriter Stephen Foster, and is a native of Buffalo, NY. She graduated from The University at Buffalo with a B.A. in Philosophy and began her writing career at the Arts Desk of The University at Buffalo Spectrum.

“Billy Joe is like a college professor,” says Dale Watson, who once wrote a song about Shaver’s notorious run-in with the law after shooting a man in self-defense (the man turned out fine). “What he does and how he does it is a lost trade, and it needs to be there to let people know how to write a damn song. My favorite song of his is probably ‘Live Forever.’ It’s got a spiritual tone to it like Billy always has, a songwriter’s lament, a song that every good ‘ol boy can identify with.”

Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver was first announced in 2018, but is now getting published via Texas A&M University Press, John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music. Billy Joe Shaver passed away on October 28th, 2020. The book is now available for pre-order.

© 2023 Saving Country Music