Billy Joe Shaver

Daily Top Five: Gender Swap

June 30, 2015 // 19 Comments

Some of the most interesting country covers are ones where the artist doing the cover is of a different gender than the artist that recorded the original. What are your five favorite “gender swap” covers? Here’s my list: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson, “Pancho & Lefty” (Original Artist: Emmylou Harris) Sammi Smith, “Help Me Make it Through the Night” (Kris Kristofferson) Patty Loveless, “When the Fallen Angels Fly” (Billy Joe Shaver) Merle Haggard, “No Time to Cry” (Iris Dement) Reba McEntire, “Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands” (Lee Greenwood)

The Twenty Best Albums of 1994

December 26, 2014 // 5 Comments

As 2014 comes to a close, the Country Universe staff has been collectively impressed by the number of quality albums that were released this year.  How many of those albums, however, will we still be listening to in twenty years? We have that benefit of hindsight for the year 1994, and we’ve compiled our twenty favorite studio sets from that year.  At their time of release, some of our favorites were comeback albums from veteran artists, some were from current artists reaching new artistic and commercial peaks, and some were debut sets from artists that went on to become mainstays on country radio or in the Americana music scene that was just coming together twenty years ago. What they all have in common is that each and every one of them still sounds great today, and they collectively show the wide breadth that the country music landscape was transforming into Read More

100 Greatest Men: #11. Waylon Jennings

August 13, 2014 // 5 Comments

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List Waylon Jennings was the very embodiment of the country music outlaw movement in the seventies, demonstrating that legendary music can be made if artists are liberated to create it in the way that they want to. Jennings was born in Littlefield, Texas, and was playing the guitar and singing on the radio by the time he was twelve years old.    Jennings dropped out of school at age fourteen, and picked cotton while pursuing music in his spare time. When he moved to Lubbock, he became friendly with rising rock star Buddy Holly, who took Jennings under his wing. Holly produced a single for Jennings and had him fill in as a bass player in the Crickets.

Themed Albums

February 13, 2009 // 7 Comments

Kathy Mattea’s brilliant album released last year, Coal, reminded me of how much I love themed albums.  There is something unique and special about an album that addresses a single topic from varied angles or transports the listener on a purposeful ride.  It’s not just a random collection of singles with little to coalesce them together.  Rather, like great movies, themed albums demand that you listen from the first note to the last, lest you miss something important in between. Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger is one of the most famous themed albums in country music history.  The entire album is based on the conceptual story of a preacher who shoots his cheating wife and her lover before going on the run. However, the theme doesn’t have to be as concrete as the one in Red Headed Stranger or as narrow as the one in Coal, which endeavors to shine Read More

Billy Joe Shaver featuring Marty Stuart, “Winning Again”

October 10, 2007 // 1 Comment

Ever wonder what the Benny Hill music might sound like if it was twanged up from here to hog heaven? I do believe it would resemble the relentlessly addictive hillbilly jam that backs “Winning Again,” an unsurprisingly solid collaboration between two veterans with cred to spare. Religious songs always sound better when they’re more tent revival than suburban Sunday service. Burning with the fire of the newly converted, the joy of praise radiates from start to finish. Grade: A Listen: Winning Again Buy: Winning Again