Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Hello Stranger - Editor's Note from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Hello Stranger

An advance copy of The Earth Rolls On arrived in my mailbox just before I left town for the holidays, as Grant and I were in the midst of pondering what to put on our next cover. Shaver was among the things on our short list, though, as always, we never really know which direction we’ll turn until we hear the music.

It didn’t take long for me to be convinced that Shaver was indeed the way to go — about two minutes and fourteen seconds, which is the running time of the record’s leadoff track, “Love Is So Sweet”. Right off the bat I played that song three or four times in a row. If brevity is the soul of wit, Shaver’s straight-to-the-point declaration suggests it’s also the heart of love. “Love is so sweet, it makes you bounce when you walk down the street.”

Such a life-affirming sentiment certainly wasn’t what I’d expected from Billy Joe Shaver right about now. Given that he’d recently lost both his wife and mother to cancer, what seemed more likely was an album along the lines of Jackson Browne’s Late For The Sky or Lou Reed’s Magic And Loss. Those deep explorations have their place, to be sure — but I found myself feeling truly glad for Billy Joe, as if he’d stared down the darkness and found his way back to the light. “I’ve got to say, I have looked at life a whole ‘nother way.”

So it was with overwhelming disbelief and sadness that we learned just a few days later of the death of Shaver’s son and longtime bandmate, Eddy. The story was all too familiar, but the timing seemed especially unmerciful in this case.

We wondered for a while how this would affect the plans we’d made — specifically, whether it was even thinkable to ask Billy Joe if he were willing to do an interview a mere two weeks after his son’s passing, which was unfortunately what our schedule required. Nobody should have to be concerned about marketing and promotion at a time like this.

But there’s more to it than that. This is, as Billy Joe realized, the last album that will be released under the band name Shaver, the final document of decades spent making music with his son. And it’s a tremendously good record. Their accomplishment is a shining beacon that should not be lost amidst the long shadows of this tragedy.

We’re genuinely grateful to Billy Joe, then, for making the effort to talk with us about his life and his songs, and about Eddy and the music they made together. It deserves to be heard.

Our photographer friend David Wilds sent along a picture of Eddy that appears with Grant’s cover story. David also included a note about his memories of the first time he heard Shaver’s music six years ago, and of the lasting impact it has had on him.

“I have a jones for that player who will pursue a personal statement, an artistic stance that is theirs alone,” David wrote. “Easy to identify, thrilling to see or hear, but done within an existing form. Done where others have tried, only to become one more vine climbing another man’s tree. Eddy Shaver reached for the same tools that others had put a hand to. A million other kids heard what he heard growing up. At least half of them bought guitars. He did have his daddy’s circle of friends as influence, but there are lots of us who had that and we made nothing of it. He picked up those time-honored tools and made great music, his own music. Eddy Shaver became an original. Once heard, he was easy to identify, and we sought out the opportunity to hear him again. Where rock borders country, he did his work. He did it as well as I’ve ever heard.”

I reckon Billy Joe would agree.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • Rod Kennedy (1930-2014) and the Kerrville Folk Festival - Interview & Remembrance
    Rod Kennedy’s legacy is incalculable for those who truly love music, he departed this earthly plane on Monday 14th April 2014. R.I.P. The following “warts and all” late May 1986 interview with Mr. Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the lead feature in the debut issue of the Kerrville Kronikle fanzine sometime around 1988. No serendipity […]
  • Simone Felice - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut (Glasgow - 4/11/2014)
    With his second solo album safely under his belt Simone Felice is rapidly conforming his status as one of the finest purveyors of Americana around these days. Fortunately (for us) he remains somewhat under the mass radar allowing audiences to see him in intimate settings such as the hallowed King Tuts, a perfect space to see and hear his shamanistic offering […]
  • First Seldom Scene Album in Seven Years: Exclusive Look
    Seldom Scene issues its first Smithsonian Folkways album next week with guests including Emmylou Harris. Mike Auldridge passed away in 2012, but the group includes founding member Ben Eldridge as well as Lou Reid, Dudley Connell, Ronnie Simpkins, and Fred Travers. Here is a look at "My Better Years" the Hazel Dickens' tune from the album,  […]
  • MerleFest - Wilkesboro, North Carolina - April 24-27 2014
    While there are quite a few notable festivals that begin earlier than late April, many of us kick off the festival season by trekking to not your normal community college, the Wilkes Community College in the rolling hills of north central North Carolina where MerleFest has been held every year since 1988. Named in honor of Merle Watson who lived nearby, 2014 […]
  • Americana Boogie new releases for the week of April 15th... Rodney Crowell, Bobby Bare Jr, Moot Davis, Secret Sisters, Ray Bonneville and more
    BOBBY BARE JR. Undefeated (Bloodshot) Bobby Bare, Jr. could've phoned in a career. He could've exploited the fact that he s the son of Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare, instead, he blazed a path of unique songwriting… […]
  • Five Questions: Kris Orlowski
    With his new album, Believer, Seattle's Kris Orlowski steps forward in two new directions. First, it's a full-length record (after three EPs) and, second, he's a band (not just a singer/songwriter). Listening to the depth and breadth of Believer, both points ring out loud and clear -- it's a solid collection of songs rendered in big sonic […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter