March 21, 2019

Found this last night digging through photos. A handwritten letter from Billy Joe Shaver, October 1996. If you know who that is and are a fan, you can imagine the awe in my smile catching the eyes popping outta my face. Billy Joe Shaver’s Tramp On Your Street album was the one thing my dad and I ever bonded over. Aside from Pancho’s Mexican Buffet.

I was writing country songs at the time, in college, and had nine of them taken to Nashville by a guy named Kevin Hutchins who’d won at the Texas Opry 3 years in a row. We started with a song called Never Liked Mornings [Til I Woke Up Next to You] and I got a cassette recording out of it, but have no recollection what happened to it, or the rest of the songs. Or Kevin.

I was pretty confident the night Shaver came to Houston. I tracked Billy Joe down behind the venue, shook his somewhat fingerless hand and gave him a few songs. This letter arrived the next week. I would like to pass on the contents of it to anyone who has ever sent me a poem.