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Billy Joe Shaver rises once again

By Jeffrey B. Remz, December 2002

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Shaver released a string of albums including a live one and then three for another new label, New West. Following dissatisfaction with last year's "The Earth Rolls On," Shaver was unsure whether he would record again.

"Actually, I didn't know if I was ever going to record again because of all of the things that happened with me, and I was kind of a little bit disappointed with the way things went down. We didn't do a video. We didn't do this...We didn't do that. I broke ties with New West, and I didn't have an idea I'd do anything."

Shaver said Field had "heard I'd been down. He called me and said, 'let's try to put this together and put together a great album. I thought about it. So, I called him back. He rounded up people. He was the one who got me going (before). It was quite a comeback really, but we hadn't really been anywhere. Here we are."

"I had to make the final decision. I just wanted to prove that I could do one, and these people were so nice," he says of Compadre.

When asked who he had to prove something to, Shaver says, "Me. Me. I knew in doing that it would be good for everybody to listen to it. The timing is perfect. I'm behind all these songs 100 percent. It was time to do them."

Compadre owner Brad Turcotte says in a phone interview from Houston that he wanted Shaver because "he's a Texas legend. And when you think of Billy Joe Shaver, you immediately think (only) of songwriting. And that's a shame. He's been an artist for 30 years. I knew this was going to be his first solo album in (15) years and what better way to market him than as an artist."

He also spends time acting. He appeared in Robert Duvall's "The Apostle" and once again is working with Duvall on "Secondhand Lions" with Michael Caine starring.

In some respects, "Freedom's Child" is a comeback for Shaver due to the personal turmoil surrounding his last album.

But Shaver certainly is not one to wallow in any misery life has dealt him.

"It's not hard at all," he says of playing without his son. "He melted into me. I feel his presence. It made me stronger, really. If it don't kill you, it makes you stronger. A lot of times you feel like committing suicide, and you don't. You realize, of course, you can't do that."

"Coming from the ground up is good," says Shaver. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

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