We're losing musical legends at a distressing pace.
Soon after the death of Jerry Jeff Walker, supreme country songwriter and performer Billy Joe Shaver died Tuesday in Waco, Texas of a massive stroke at age 81.
Willie Nelson acknowledged Shaver as the best songwriter in Texas, and Shaver compositions like "Old Five and Dimers Like Me" go beyond country conventions to achieve poetry.
Shaver's wrote 10 of the 12 songs on Waylon Jennings' groundbreaking "outlaw country" album, "Honky Tonk Heroes." The title song, written by Shaver, is one of Jennings' signature numbers.
While Shaver never made it big as a performer, his songs were recorded by an all-star cast including Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris and Elvis Presley.
Like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard and Nelson, Shaver possessed the gift of expressing universal emotions in memorable lines. Fans at concerts sang along with his words, as if they had written them.
Shaver really lived on the edges, battling alcoholism, drug abuse and violent bar-room encounters.
His raffish personality masked a songwriter of rare sensitivity and subtle language. He also had a gift for simple but unforgettable melodies.
Jerry Jeff Walker and Billie Joe Shaver gone in one week. They survived a lot of good times and hard times, and left us beautiful music.