The King of Country has put his own spin on a classic track penned by influential singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver.
The tune is a beloved Shaver original made famous by Waylon Jennings, who recorded it for his landmark 1973 record Honky Tonk Heroes.
As he narrates the classic country story song, Strait infuses plenty of heart and emotion into his vocals. He is backed by a richly-layered accompaniment that builds off the sonic landscapes heard on Jennings’ recording and Shaver’s hailed, Kris Kristofferson-produced debut record Old Five and Dimers Like Me.
According to Strait, the chance to honor one of his home state’s most legendary talents was an offer he couldn’t pass up.
“It was an honor to be a part of this tribute to one of Texas’s best,” Strait says in a statement. “He got down deep into the very soul of country. RIP Billy Joe. See you down the road amigo.”
Strait’s rendition of “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me” is one of 12 new covers featured on Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver. The project, which is set for release on Nov. 11, includes contributions from Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Miranda Lambert, Steve Earle, Margo Price, Amanda Shires and Allison Russell.
Shaver was a pivotal member of the 1970s outlaw country movement who forged close bonds with fellow musicians of the era, including Jennings, Nelson, Kristofferson, and David Allan Coe, among others. His incredible contributions to the genre earned him an induction into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and a Grammy nomination, amongst many other accolades. Shaver died on Oct. 28, 2020, at the age of 81, after suffering a stroke.
Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver Track Listing:
1. “Live Forever” – Willie Nelson (w/ Lucinda Williams)
2. “Ride Me Down Easy” – Ryan Bingham (w/ Nikki Lane)
3. “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” – Rodney Crowell
4. “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (but I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” – Miranda Lambert
5. “I Couldn’t Be Me Without You” – Edie Brickell
6. “You Asked Me To” – Nathaniel Rateliff
7. “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me” – George Strait
8. “Honky Tonk Heroes” – Amanda Shires
9. “Ain’t No God In Mexico” – Steve Earle
10. “Ragged Old Truck” – Margo Price
11. “Georgia on a Fast Train” – Willie Nelson
12. “Tramp on Your Street” – Allison Russell
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