Billy Joe Shaver returned to Raleigh on Monday night in support of his first new release in six years, Long In The Tooth. Shaver, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday, thinks it is his best. “Hard To Be an Outlaw” is perhaps the standout on the record, and at Southland Ballroom, he seemed to focus on performing this particular song with more urgency than the others. His line “It’s hard to be an outlaw when you’re not wanted anymore” felt like a sad and introspective footnote for a storied career. It received laughs throughout the crowd.
With a considerable back catalog, Shaver generally spends the majority of his set playing the songs that have made him famous as a songwriter, but during this performance, the newer material stood out. Shaver was animated as ever, swinging his arms on stage, throwing punches at the air and flashing his trademark smile. He told store, too—about his three marriages to the same woman and about his much-publicized trial of a shooting incident a few years back. After the show, instead of signing autographs at the merch table, he stood out front of the venue to greet the large crowd that came to see him. Taking pictures and shaking hands, the aging outlaw is clearly still in demand and still wanted by many.
Below are two clips from his performance.
Billy Joe Shaver, “Hard to Be an Outlaw”
Billy Joe Shaver, “I’ll Love You as Much as I Can”