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At 74, Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver Is Still An Outlier

Monday, August 11, 2014

In 1973, Waylon Jennings released an album called Honky Tonk Heroes that consisted almost entirely, with one exception, of songs written by Billie Joe Shaver, a then-unknown Texas songwriter. Since that time, his songs have been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson, and he's considered one of the founders of the outlaw-country movement. Now 74 years old, Shaver has just released his first new studio album in six years, called Long in the Tooth. Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker has a review.

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"If you want to understand a political conflict, it helps to understand the culture in which that conflict is taking place," says host Terry Gross. Fresh Air is one of the most popular programs on public radio, breaking the "talk show" mold, and Gross is known for her fearless and insightful interviews with prominent figures in American arts, politics, and popular culture. "When there is a crisis in a foreign country, we sometimes call up that country's leading novelist or filmmaker to get the cultural perspective." Fresh Air features daily reports and reviews from critics and commentators on music, books, movies, and other cultural phenomena that invade the national psyche.

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