On May 31 I’m playing at Woodall’s Watering Hole in Hubbard, Texas, a crossroads Texas town like the ones I’ve passed through all my life. Only this time, I’ll be crossing paths with Billy Joe Shaver, opening the show for him that night.
I’ve got silver in my hair, or should I say, there’s a little black in my silver hair. I’ve got a few lines in my face and a permanent trucker’s tan on my left arm. I’ve worn out more tires, alternators, and seat covers than I can count driving around the country playing for folks. I can do almost every bar trick ever invented, thanks to endless hours spent waiting for night to roll around so I can get up on stage and do my trick. I’ve got some divorce decrees, some support orders, a few police reports laying around, and even a file on me in an FBI building somewhere. I’ve ridden a mule in the Arizona desert and gotten lost in the subway in New York City. I’ve eaten everything from a week old burrito from the Alsups to steak in a penthouse restaurant with real linen napkins. And my lifetime social security earnings report is about as big as a convenience store receipt, all due to my steadfast refusal to get a real job.
But I’m like a kid on the playground next to Billy Joe Shaver. I first remember him from Honky Tonk Heroes, which came out right about the time I was supposed to be seriously considering what I wanted to be when I grew up. I got to listening to those Honky Tonk songs and decided I didn’t want to grow up.
I don’t know if being a honky tonker causes you to have a hard life, or if having a hard life makes you a honky tonker. I only know that I do this because it’s what I do. Hell, all I ever wanted was to run up and down the country playing in beer joints.