Book Review: Texas Platters

Sheet music/CD

Texas Platters

Honky Tonk Hero

by Billy Joe Shaver, assisted by Brad Reagan

University of Texas Press, 189 pp., $19.95

A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver

Live (Compadre)

During the last few years, Texas music poet laureate Billy Joe Shaver has gone increasingly multimedia. Besides his film work, from Secondhand Lions to SXSW 04 documentary The Portrait of Billy Joe, Shaver has now penned an autobiography – or part of one, in any event. Honky Tonk Hero is most troubling in its brevity, Shaver recounting his entire life story in just 72 pages and filling the rest of the book with photographs and lyrics. Like his music, his conversational writing style is so engaging it leaves the reader craving more. Nevertheless, Shaver hits all the high points, from his rough East Texas childhood and three marriages to Brenda to his time in Nashville and his later-day renaissance with his guitar-wielding son Eddy. It's an effortless read, and the lyrics do, as the author suggests, read like poetry. Again, though, it all serves as a tease best remedied by a big dose of his immortal music.

In the music department, a new live tribute disc was recorded here in Austin August 2004 at Shaver's 65th birthday party, which took place at the Paramount Theatre. It features folks like Guy Clark, Dale Watson, Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis, Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Todd Snider performing either one of Shaver's songs or one that he inspired in some way. Shaver performs on four tracks, including a bittersweet a cappella take of "You Wouldn't Know Love." Except for Snider's "Waco Moon," which was written after his friend Eddy's death, none of the performances stand out as especially memorable.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
<i>Me & Mr. Cigar</i>
Me & Mr. Cigar
Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes debuts a deeply weird and wonderful young adult novel.

Alyssa Quiles, Feb. 21, 2020

Revenge of the She-Punks
Revenge of the She-Punks

Rachel Rascoe, Dec. 6, 2019

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Honky Tonk Hero, Billy Joe Shaver, A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle