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The first time I met Billy Joe Shaver I wasn’t old enough to drive a car (legally) and he was riding horses for his father-in-law. It was also before he cut off parts of those fingers in the sawmill where he was working nights to make ends meet. I have seen him in every stage of life since then. He is still the best three-fingered bull rider I have seen – as well as the worst, he kinda liked that line from me. Because of him, I did have a few moments around the likes of Nelson, Jennings, Clark, and the like (“Boys, here is the only real cowboy in this whole damn place”) but in many ways, he always was the simplest and most honest soul among them. He never failed to come to sit with me between sets regardless of the stage of life he was caught in and no matter what he might put into his body he always respected that my limits were beer and whiskey. He was hard-headed and tough as hell, as open and honest as the sky above and saw live at the bare soil level. I have put off saying anything about the passing of Jerry Jeff Walker until I finished some thoughts on a couple of other things and got my Dad to his deer lease. It will be a few days past that before I return to the subject of the insightful crafter of words whose education came from the cotton fields outside of Emhouse and the honky-tonks east of Waco. Rest easy Ol’ Hoss.Published in