It's best not to confuse Billy Joe Shaver with Billy Ray Cyrus. It's unlikely Shaver would ever sing anything as maudlin as "Achy Breaky Heart," for one thing. He probably won't sing anything as popular, either; Shaver falls in with that long line of acclaimed but underappreciated West Texas outlaw country artists. In many ways, he's much like Kris Kristofferson (who has recorded Shaver's songs): He's respected for his songwriting abilities and the masterful manner in which he weaves a tale, but his road-worn voice won't ever find a parking spot on the radio. Now just a week beyond his 74th birthday, Shaver started out as a Nashville songwriter. Waylon Jennings' Honky Tonk Heroes was filled with Shaver originals, and after the King, Elvis Presley, recorded one of his songs, Shaver got his own record deal. His first release, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, remains a classic outlaw country album. And though he mostly lived the hard life of a country outlaw, it only enhanced what he could write about — and added emotion when he performed it. He won't sing "Achy Breaky Heart," but he just may have one.
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