Billy Joe Shaver's been thinking about making a spiritual album for a long time, but like everything in his life, he approaches spirituality on his own terms. Somebody called this album 'honky tonk gospel,'" Shaver says chuckling. I kinda like that." Shaver is describing Everybody's Brother
, his August 7, 2007 release on Compadre Records, a division of Mathew Knowles' Music World Entertainment.
Producer John Carter Cash, son of Shaver's pal Johnny Cash, added his own studio polish to the project, while capturing all the rowdy energy of Shaver's live performances. Cash commented: "Billy Joe Shaver is the last of his breed. Since I was a young child, I have known him, and now having the chance to work with him in the studio as a producer, I have learned his heart. Billy Joe is the kind of man who will go the extra mile for a friend... Give his coat when asked for his shirt. I love Billy Joe, and will always treasure the memories of working with him."
The songs on Everybody's Brother deal with love, loss, mortality and the hereafter, all viewed from Shaver's unique perspective. Get Thee Behind Me Satan" opens the album with a bang. John Anderson trades off on lead vocals and adds his harmonies to the chorus on the bluesy rocker. Anderson recently joined Shaver at a Civil War-era church in Shelbyville, TN to shoot a video for the track.
Other guests on the album include Marty Stuart, Tanya Tucker, Kris Kristofferson, and Randy Scruggs. The album's final track is a late 1970s duet with Johnny Cash on You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ." It was produced by Cowboy Jack Clement and features a 15-year-old Eddy Shaver playing smoking guitar.
Native American singer/songwriter Bill Miller adds pow-wow drums, Native American cedar flute and vocals to the title track for a soundscape that pays tribute to America's oldest music. It was my idea to mix cowboy and Indian music," Shaver says. I'm Blackfoot on my father's side, and Bill's a full-blood Mohican. He did a wonderful job."
Shaver is truly one of the most respected living figures in American music today. Johnny Cash called him my favorite songwriter." He has written for Cash as well as Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, The Allman Brothers and Bobby Bare. The last few years have been rough on Shaver. His mother, wife and son Eddy all died within a year's time. Then he suffered a massive heart attack, but he recovered and was soon back on the road, his characteristic optimism intact. I've always been lucky and I'm lucky to still be here. God gave me this gift [of songwriting] and I'll keep polishing it as long as I can," he explains.
Shaver will tour all over the country to support Everybody's Brother. Some of his upcoming tour appearances include the Austin City Limits Festival, Farm Aid, New York City's Joe's Pub, and the Minnesota State Fair.
A special version of the album will be distributed through Universal/ EMI Christian in early October.