John R. Miller may not have been born in Texas, but his music fits right into the Texas Country genre that I know and love.
Miller grew up near the Potomac River in the panhandle of West Virginia. He found an affection for country music at a young age- primarily singer-songwriter stuff. His tastes in music are remarkably like mine. Tastes including the trifecta of superstars that we lost last year during the Pandemic. Prine- and Texas own Shaver and JJ Walker. John R Miller’s website https://jrmillermusic.com/press also lists Texas gods like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt as some of his biggest influences. The bio goes onto to say that Oklahoma bred J.J. Cale a forerunner in the Tulsa sound was the biggest influence in Miller’s music.
“I wrote most of these songs after finding myself single and without a band for the first time in a long while,”
John R. Miller
At Midnight today, 7/16/2021, John R. Miller released his latest piece of work, his newest album, “Depreciated.” The soulful self-reflecting lyrics throughout this album tell the stories of Miller’s home in the Shenandoah Valley and the reasons why he can’t go back there. “Depreciated,” is a long way to come for a guy who used to record his songs on a blank cassette tape. This mix of country, rock and blues takes a trip to the hard facts of life, no matter where you came from be it the desert in West Texas or the lush green hills of West by God Virginia.
Rounder Records states Miller’s reaction to the new record in John R. Miller’s own words, “I wrote most of these songs after finding myself single and without a band for the first time in a long while,” Miller says. “I stumbled to Nashville and started to figure things out, so a lot of these have the feel of closing a chapter.”
The album is definitely worth the time to take a listen to for music fans everywhere. It is one that I am gonna be spinning for a long time to come.
Yesterday I was blessed via Twitter when Jared LoStracco reached out to me. We visited for a while via messenger and through the text I gained more insight on this insightful songwriter.
LoStracco has a love of music that is very similar to my own tastes. His earliest influences came from listening to Waylon Jennings with his father. He said he was too young then to really understand the depth of the music and lyrics. As he grew up and was able to reflect on those moments with his dad, he discovered that many of his favorite songs were actually penned by Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver. On Waylon Jennings Honky Tonk Heroes album, released back in 1973, Billy Joe penned or co-penned 10 of the tracks that Waylon cut on that album. Willie Nelson, Tom T Hall, and Elvis Presley all also released songs written by the great Billy Joe Shaver. LoStracco also lists these as some who have influenced his style of songwriting.
“The Greatest Living Songwriter.”
Prior to Billy Joe Shaver’s death last October, Willie Nelson once referred to him as, “The Greatest LivingSongwriter.” I was reflecting just this moment, does Willie now think of Billy Joe as the greatest not living songwriter? Jared LoStracco showed me his tender side when he told me he cried the day he heard the news of Billy Joe Shaver passing. I admitted to him that I too was extremely saddened by the loss of such a great writer. I believe Shaver influenced so many other musicians and his humility and humanitarian efforts helped the masses. Whether they were country musicians, music fans, or just plain ol’ folks, Billy Joe Impacted everyone’s life he came across.
It is not yet my place to announce the details yet, but I will say that there is something in the works by Jared LoStracco as a tribute to the great Billy Joe Shaver. I think it is excellent and I believe the world of music is going to receive it well. I am truly looking forward to seeing what LoStracco will come up with next.
“His songs are like mirrors, they reflect the good and bad. Show you what’s true and not what you wish you had. Spend your days happy with everything you got ‘cause when it’s time to go, it don’t matter what you’re not.”
Another artist that greatly impacted the music of Jared LoStracco was John Prine. Prine has always been a favorite of mine. I can relate and reflect on so much of my own personality and inner demons with the words to any John Prine song. Prine’s style of soothing words and music have always been able to take me out of the pits of any personal hell I might find myself in. LoStracco released a song last year called “Searching For John Prine.” In his tribute to the late great Prine, LoStracco describes to perfection the way I see a John Prine Song. LoStracco describes Prine, “ His songs are like mirrors, they reflect the good and bad. Show you what’s true and not what you wish you had. Spend your days happy with everything you got ‘cause when it’s time to go, it don’t matter what you’re not.”
”We’ve got to believe that there’s another Bob Dylan, that someone can come along and strike a chord that suddenly draws everybody’s attention back to Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark and John Prine . . . that somebody can bring things back to where it means something. I see it happening.”
Singer songwriter Rodney Crowell stated this: ”We’ve got to believe that there’s another Bob Dylan, that someone can come along and strike a chord that suddenly draws everybody’s attention back to Kris Kristofferson and Guy Clark and John Prine . . . that somebody can bring things back to where it means something. I see it happening.” When I began this blog last year with the help of my wife, I only wanted to draw attention to these great songwriters, country and folk singers. The Dylans, Kristoffersons, Clarks, and Prines. When I started chasing these guys and digging further into them, I found countless other greats that these men have inspired. There are so many great living songwriters out there at this time in our lives. I want to introduce you to the Seth Joneses, The South Texas Tweeks and the Mason & The Gin Lines. I want to show you a catalog of about a billion other independent singer songwriters who need to have their voices heard. Since beginning this blog, the doors have opened to so many more artists than I ever could have imagined. I write about these guys not for any personal gain of my own. I only wish to share the creations of what these guys are giving to ease the pains of today’s cold cruel world. Today my goal through my writing is to open the doors to music fans out there to this newest breed of singer/ songwriters. John Prine may have left some big shoes to fill but I know in my heart of hearts that men like Jared LoStracco are up to the task.
The “Boi” has made it back to Brazoria County after a quick trip to Austin. South Texas Tweek was in Austin Texas earlier today to record his latest single. According to his Twitter account, The single is due to release on 6/4 of this year.
South Texas Tweek has been growing up in public these last few months since I began following him on social media and listening to his music. He is a genuinely fun-loving guy with a heart as big as Texas the state he calls home. There are plans for a full album in the not so far off future. Tweek’s fan base grows daily and he appreciates and tries to respond to as many of his fans as possible. I recently enjoyed the pictures he posted and the comments he made towards his band. He lets the world know that he is proud of them and that he can Count on Them! He knows that to make good music and give the fans what they want to hear that he can’t take all of the credit.
“It Takes A Village Brother.”
South Texas Tweek
I always have a lot of fun following South Texas Tweek on Twitter. Although I have never personally met the man, I feel like he is someone I could walk right up to and start a conversation with. Sometimes he can be serious and understanding. Sometimes he gives that good old fashioned fatherly advice. Other times he can be so damn funny that he leaves me in stitches. I like a man who isn’t afraid to have a good time and laugh and joke, even at his own expense.
In response to a Tweet earlier today, The Tweek replied that he was writing a sad song. I know he has his own demons, but he hides them quite well through his fun and games. Maybe through his songwriting some of these demons will finally stop haunting him in the way that they do. I have heard that South Texas Tweek can write a song about most any subject and I do not doubt that he can write the saddest song of them all. I know I will have to prepare myself to see this other side of him. The man that has made me laugh so many times in these last few months is also going to be the same man who will eventually make me cry.
Songwriting is the cheapest psychiatrist I know.”
Billy Joe Shaver
The late great Texas Songwriter, Billy Joe Shaver once said, “Songwriting is the cheapest psychiatrist I know.”
I hope that South Texas Tweek is finding his own personal healing and further happiness through the songs he writes. I know that he is going to make more songs that touch my soul and whoever else will listen along.
I have always thought that Willie Nelson would have made a great president. Sadly, due to drummer Paul English passing last February he will be unable to make vice. Willie Nelson is a man with a heart and compassion for the American people.
Willie Nelson has helped countless American Farmers.
In the summer of 1985 Bob Dylan made a statement from the stage of Live Aid. Live Aid was a fundraiser held at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. The benefit was seeking donations for African famine relief.
“I hope that some of the money…maybe they can just take a little bit of it maybe and use it to pay the mortgages of some of the farmers here.”
Afterwards, Dylan received criticism from the Live Aid event organizer Bob Geldof for his statement. The statement however, planted a seed. Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young began planning a benefit for the American farmer. The very first “Farm Aid” took place in Champaign, Illinois September 22,1985.
Willie helps the common people and other musicians as well.
In December of 2000, Eddy Shaver, son of Billy Joe Shaver died of a Heroin overdose. Shaver was to perform that night at a New Years eve concert.
“ My band just went nuts…all crying and stuff. Willie called me up and said Billy, you gotta get back on the horse. I’m an old cowboy, I know what he’s talking about, so I got up there.”
Billy Joe Shaver
Willie Nelson put a band together, and the two performed that night after all. Willie held up his old friend and selflessly helped out another musician.
I have friends who actually stopped listening to the Red Headed Stranger solely based on his political beliefs. In reality Willie has endorsed both Republican and Democratic tickets.
As an Environmentalist, Willie uses Bio Diesel to fuel his tour buses. In 2004 Willie started a company called Willie Nelson BioFuel that produced bio fuel under the brand name BioWillie. Due to high requirements the fuels availability has declined. But Willie hasn’t given up. A retail grade is now available on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Willie Nelson has a home in Hawaii that runs on solar panels.
Although sometimes his views are not always orthodox, Nelson was born and raised a Methodist in Abbott, Texas. When the local church that he had grown up in began having hardships, Willie Nelson bought the building so that the congregation could continue to have services.
Sometimes Willie is judged by those who say his Christian Music is hypocritical. Those judging him seem to me like the hypocrites. See, the Bible says in Matthew 7:1 “Judge Not.”
Most famously, Willie Nelson is known for his advocacy to legalize Marijuana. I personally wouldn’t use it, but I don’t have a problem with someone who does.
There are some real health benefits that have been proven associated with this “drug”. Why is it any worse than drinking beer or whiskey? Studies show it is actually less harmful than alcohol. If Marijuana were controlled, it would bring a big tax income into our American economy. Regulating and legalizing the use of Marijuana would lower the crime rate. It even might help out some of the above mentioned American farmers.
My Fellow Americans, I think tonight the fate of the election for our newest President has been set. The Democratic Party will move into the whitehouse this coming January. For me I am not yet sure what this is going to mean. My family depends on the oil economy to survive. I believe in entrepreneurship and capitalism in a free trade society. Something that I fear the current party does not. I hope to own my own business one day and to make my own way in society.
What would Willie do?
Willie Nelson’s advice “IF YOU DON’T LIKE ‘EM VOTE ‘EM OUT.
Billy Joe Shaver Crossed that river today after suffering a massive stroke yesterday. Shaver was 81 years old. Texas has lost yet another songwriting legend.
Some have said that Shaver was one of the greatest living country songwriters. His song “Live Forever” was written by him and his son Eddy Shaver. John Edwin “Eddy” Shaver crossed his river on December 31, 2000. The song was recorded by them twice. Once, on the 1993 album Tramp On Your Street and again in 1998 on the album Victory.
The song was also performed by The Highwaymen and Joe Ely. Robert Duvall performs it in the movie Crazy Heart.
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone
Nobody here will ever find me
But I’ll always be around
Just like the songs I leave behind me
I’m gonna live forever now
These are just a glimpse of the words Shaver turned into song.
Billy Joe Shaver may be gone in the flesh, but as I believe as did he, Shaver isn’t gone for good. Shaver wasn’t afraid to talk about his faith and beliefs of the afterlife.
Shaver found religion after his son Eddy had died. One of his favorite sayings was, “If you don’t love Jesus, you can go to hell.”
He even recorded a gospel album in 2007 called Everybody’s Brother that featured duets with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Tanya Tucker.
The songs that Shaver left behind are treasures for us all to enjoy in this earthy life. I am sure he is up there in Heaven now singing with the angels.
Billy Joe Shaver was born in Corsicana, Texas August 16, 1939. He was mostly raised by his grandmother while his mother, Victory Watson Shaver, worked in nearby Waco, Texas. Shaver left school in the eighth grade in order to help his uncles pick cotton.
Shaver on occasion would accompany his mother to her job at a night club in Waco called the Green Gables. Shaver penned the song, “Honky Tonk Heros” about these experiences at the Green Gables.
Billy Joe Shaver spent a stint in the Navy, enlisting at the age of 17. After completing his military duties, He worked a series of odd jobs. Billy Joe had an accident at a saw-mill which caused him to lose two of his fingers off of his left hand. It was then, when he taught himself to play guitar and had dreams of becoming a songwriter. Shaver told CMT in 2012, that he had made a deal with God.
“When I cut my fingers off, I made a deal with God, If You get me out of this, I will go on and do what I am supposed to do.’”
Billy Joe Shaver
Hitch hiking his way to Nashville, Billy Joe found work as a songwriter for fifty dollars a week.
Shaver’s big break came when Waylon Jennings recorded the album, Honky Tonk Heros in 1973. All but one song on the entire album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.
Waylon, having once heard Billy Joe Shaver perform, “Willy The Wandering Gypsy and Me” had told him he would like to record it.
Enlisting the help of radio deejay, Captain Midnight, Billy Joe tracked Waylon down. Waylon, who was bothered by the intrusion of this, gave Midnight a hundred-dollar bill, just to have Billy Joe Shaver “Go Away.” Shaver wouldn’t take NO for an answer.
Billy Joe finally got a chance to speak to Waylon, who he recalled at the time, had two big bikers with him.
I’ll tell you what I want … If you don’t listen to these songs, at least listen to them, I’m going to whip your ass right here in front of God and everybody.”
Billy Joe Shaver
Waylon decided he had better listen to one, then another. In his biography Waylon told:
His songs were of a piece, and the only way you could ever understand Billy Joe was to hear his whole body of work.
Billy Joe talked the way a modern cowboy would speak, if he stepped out of the West and lived today.
Shaver secured his own record deal, and continued writing and performing his music. His songs were recorded by many including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Patty Loveless. He enjoyed wide appreciation from his peers.
Billy Joe Shaver continued his music until the very end. He received numerous awards and accolades along the way. He performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1999. In 2006, Shaver was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2019, Shaver received the Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music.