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Billy Joe Shaver


by Derek Halsey
Spring 2003

Billy Joe Shaver is one of the best and most prolific songwriters that America has ever produced. He is known to a lot of people for being a huge part of the so-called 'outlaw movement' in country music that took place in the early 1970's with the likes of Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings leading the way. The album that many consider to be the one that got Waylon going was Honky Tonk Heroes. Billy Joe wrote or co-wrote nine out of ten songs on that important record. Then he recorded an album of his own with Old Five and Dimers Like Me coming out soon after. As a native son of Texas during those heady times in Austin he lived the 'outlaw ' life to the fullest, and then some. Along the way it was brought to Billy's attention that his son, Eddy, was turning into a heck of a guitar player. Billy brought his son onboard and they worked together to put out some of the most rocking country music to come out of the 1980's and 90's. And, his songs have been recorded by hundreds of other musicians like Willie Nelson, The Allman Brothers Band, Bobby Bare, Elvis, George Jones, Asleep At The Wheel, John Hartford, Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, Patty Loveless, and many others.

But a few years ago Billy Joe Shaver hit a stretch of bad news and bad times that would put any human to the test. In 1999 he lost both his wife and his mother to cancer about a month apart. The next year, on New Years Eve of 2000, he lost his son Eddy to a drug overdose. By the spring of 2001 he tried to dust himself off and go out and play some gigs only to have a heart attack onstage. After that came another operation to put a metal rod in his neck. Billy thought about checking out, it was just too much. But somehow he got back up again and in 2002 recorded a brilliant new album that is out now called Freedom's Child. He also won the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting at the Americana Music Awards last September. I talked to him by phone as he was waiting for his friend Nick Nolte to meet up with him in a club in Fort Worth. Here is the story of his new album, and his life of love and loss and hope. But, as you read this let me warn you, you may never look at your fingers the same way again.

Well, brother Shaver, Texas songwriters seem to be on a bit of a roll lately. Between your new album and the Flatlander's new one, what is it about Texas that puts out the songwriters?

Yeah, they are from Lubbock. I don't know. I just don't know. I got no idea. There's a gang of them, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, well he's gone now, Waylon Jennings, good Lord. Guy Clark also, from Beaumont.

I love your new album brother. Tell me about the title cut, "Freedom's Child," about a soldier buried in an unknown grave.

Thank ya', man. I really appreciate it. I worked hard on it. It's actually about the futility of war. And, also, it's about people that join up voluntarily and they really don't know, they might end up in that grave. I mean, that's always in the back of your head. I know when I joined I volunteered and went into the navy and that always kind of comes up because you think about it a little bit. These people that volunteer to be in the service, they are really special people. They need a little pat on the back every once in a while. In a kind of bleak kind of way I did the best I could.

Well, it always seems like the normal 'joes' are the ones that get lost in the shuffle.

Yes, they do. And they are heroes. Just by joining up your a hero because you know that something bad could happen to you. And you know you got to do your job, you can't say no, so your giving up a lot when you go in there and everybody that ever volunteered to go into the service is a big hero in my eyes.

Another great song on the new album is "That's Why The Man In Black Sings The Blues." It is a wonderful tribute to Johnny Cash. How long have you known Johnny?

Oh, a looooooong time. (laughing) I used to work for him. I worked for him for a couple of years, and then my wife worked for him for 14 years. Yeah, she was a hairstylist. She worked on movies and things, Dean Martin, things like that. Pretty hot stuff. I wrote for his publishing company, the House of Cash. I hope that what I wrote is pretty much the way he would have said it. And I used a lot of the language that he uses like 'working stiff', things like that. Fine man.

Johnny has been through some stuff in his time.

Yeah, well, he put his self through a lot of it. Don't we all.

Buy Billy Joe Shaver's Freedom's Child at AMAZON.COM 

The song "Honey Chile" sounds like a song from way back. It has a great old feel to it.

You know, I actually recall that from way back yonder when I was a kid about 15 years old. I heard that story in a little old cafe down there in Vacherie (Louisiana) and it was kind of like a folk story. There wasn't nothing much to it. It was about a guy that married a young girl and wound up killing her and it just stuck with me. I just went ahead and wrote it. Like an old folk story, really.

Have you spent much time in New Orleans? I'm sure you have.

(laughs) Yeah, played down at Tipitina's quite a bit. Always something going on. You got to watch it down there. You turn around and all your stuff will be gone.

You have Jamie Hartford playing on the new album and he does a great job. Did you know his dad John?

Well, John Hartford was a good friend of mine and I've been knowing Jamie since he was a kid, but I didn't really know him that well. I'd see him around. I had no idea that he could play that good and RS Field is the one who put him in there. (RS Field produced Freedom's Child) Actually RS put the whole band together, and he did a great job. Jamie just stepped up to the plate and just knocked a homerun.

As far as Jamie's dad, John, goes you could know him for 15 minutes and have a 'Hartford' story. He was a smart, talented man that was peculiar in his own way.

Yeah, he was a real person. Yes, he was, but most of those really highly talented people are. He was super smart. I think he wrote my favorite song of all time, 'Gentle On My Mind.' I've always loved that song. I don't know how you get any better than that.

John always said that he wrote that song in about 20 minutes or so. Does that ever happen to you?

Well, it had probably been rolling around in is head God knows how long, you know? I'll have them in my head and heart and soul for, sometimes, years and years. And then they'll roll right out. It will come out real fast, and people will say 'How did you write that so fast?' And I'll say, 'It took a lot longer than you think.' (laughs)

The new song "Good Ole U.S.A" is pretty unabashed in it's patriotism.

I love that. It's a happy song. I hope things get back to where they used to be, and that comes true. And little kids still dream about coming over here, and stuff like that.

In the song "Day By Day" you talk a little about the jobs you had before you made it as a musician. What kind of jobs did you have? Did you really rodeo?

I used to rodeo a little, but I had a family so I never did get on the RCA, the Rodeo Cowboys of America thing. I rode a few big rodeos, but mostly just little ole sandlot things. Then I lopped my fingers off when I was about 21 and I just quit, caused I roped some too and it was a little hard for me.

What happened to your fingers? Did that happen when you worked in the sawmill?

I cut....I almost lost my whole right hand. I got my thumb but it messed up all four of the other fingers. Cut off two, cut off the tip of one on the othern', and messed my little finger up pretty bad. I fret with my left hand so I strum with my thumb and that's it. I can't even hold a pick. Guy Clark built me a contraption that fit on my hand so I could hold a pick and I was hittin' it, man, and it popped off and about knocked somebody's eye out.(laughing). So, I gave up on it. Guy was always nice to me. Sometimes I'd break a neck on my guitar and he built guitars. He'd fix my guitar for me and you couldn't even tell where it had been broke. I had an old 1929 Gibson, one of those little guitars. I always favored the little ones because they don't hurt my neck. You know, I have a pipe in my neck., and I had a heart attack also, four-way by-pass and all that stuff, and these little guitars are not hard to hold. They are not heavy on you. And they make just as much racket as the rest of them. So that's why I like the little ones , but I was constantly breaking the neck on them because the neck was so thin on it. But finally, the last time I got it fixed, I got drunk and I gave it to Dickey Betts and he won't give it back. He's a good one. He claims he ain't got it but I know damn well he does.(laughing) That's alright.

So, you were working at the sawmill and cut part of your hand off. That must have freaked you out. Did you go into shock and all that?

Well, no, I didn't really. I was pretty calm. There was an old cowboy that worked with me and I was always kind of scared of him. He was a big old guy, and it freaked him out so much he took off running and run into a wall and knocked himself out. I thought, "what in the hell is wrong with that guy." I scooped my fingers up out of that sawdust and went and got in my pickup and drove over to the doctor's office, back yonder when you had to do stuff for yourself, and they had an old Navy doctor over there named Dr. Tab. He was a real tall guy. I came in with those fingers in my hand and bleeders and tendons and shit hanging out because I had to put my foot against the dern thing and pull my hand out of the machine. A double end machine, it had pressure bars on it, you know, that held these big old solid-core doors. You'd see these big old doors that you'd wonder why the hell they made them that big because there ain't nobody that big to go through 'em, but that's the kind we made. I had to twist my fingers off to get them out. The side bevel thing was cutting into my hand, it was a big old round steel thing with razors on it, and it goes around so fast that you can't even see it and it didn't have a safety switch. It caught a hold of my finger and I seen that I couldn't get it out no other way so I just put my foot up against it and pulled my fingers off. I took them over there to the doctor and I showed them to him and just the day before I had read an article about in Japan where they'd sown fingers on. I said, "Well, Dr. Tab, you reckon you could sow these fingers on?" He looked at me and said, "What in the hell makes you think I could do that?" I said 'I'd just read where over in Japan they'd done it.' He said, "Well, we are in Waco, Texas." So, I gave up on that and there was an African-American nurse there, about 21, real pretty, and she said, "Mr. Shaver?" And I said, "Yeah?" "Can I have them fingers?" I said, "Why?" She said, "Can I have them fingers? You ain't got no use for them have you?" I said, "Well, no, I don't guess I do." I said, "Fair question, what are you going to do with them?" "I'm going to put them in a jar and keep them for the rest of my life." I thought, "what the hell," and she came out of that backroom with a fruit jar, of all things, and she had it full of formaldehyde and she put them down in there and closed that lid and she said, "They'll never come out of there." There might be people dancin' around them things, I don't know. To each his own, I reckon.

You mentioned Dickey Betts before, how long have you known Dickey?

Oh, it's been way back yonder. In fact, good Lord, back in the early 70's. Right after I wrote that Honky Tonk Heroes album and he was a big fan of that album. He got to looking down there and saw my name on all those songs and he invited me to come down to Macon to come and see him and I thought, "What the hell is he inviting me down there for?" And, I didn't really know who he was. I swarmed around a lot then so I just went on down there. We wound up out there at his house, him and his Dad had built a wooden cabin, real nice house, and we sat down and started playing and he said, "You know, I really enjoy your songs. I thought Waylon wrote them songs and I looked down there and seen you wrote 'em and I just had to meet you." I said, "Well, here I am.' So we started picking a little and he started playing 'Ramblin' Man', you know? I said, "Man, I love that song. Damn, you do it pretty good." He said, "Hell, I ought to, I wrote it." I didn't even know it. Kind of a real dumbass, and he got a big laugh out of that, and I did to.

And, you wrote "Sweet Mama" that the Allman Brothers recorded as well, right?

Yes they did. It was already written and he just liked it. The last time I saw him was at Eddy's funeral. He took up with Eddy and picked up on Eddy's talent before I did. Eddy had played drums up until he was about 12, and then him and Dickey hooked up and I didn't know Eddy even played guitar. Dickey picked up on it and said, 'Man, this kid is a good guitar player.' He gave him a 335 (guitar) that belonged to Duane Allman, and then he gave him that 57 Strat that he played on everything. He loved that guitar. Dickey saw a lot more in him, showed him a bunch of stuff. Eddy didn't know about the special tunings for the slide guitar so he just played slide straight. He was just a virtuoso. Rolling Stone had him up in the top five guitar players in the world. He was irreplaceable. I've tried my best to replace him but...I'll tell you what though, I've got to give it to Jamie. Jamie Hartford's great. Will Kimbrough is too.

Well, it is a real bonus to have that hidden track on the new CD of Eddy playing guitar by himself.

 Yeah, that was him out in the garage, just him and a guitar and a little ole bitty amp that Clifford Antone gave to him. Clifford Antone, the guy that owns Antone's Blues Bar? It belonged to an old blues man from way back, it was a real old little amp. He liked to never got it to running, but he did. There wasn't much to it. Eddy was out in the garage messing around with it and I stuck a tape recorder out there and he nailed that song. It wasn't too long before he passed away.

In the song "Corsicana Daily Sun" you sing of the time that you spent with your grandma. What was that like back then?

My grandmother raised me on her old age pension. That's where all that came from. When I had to leave her, I left her when I was about 12, I went to live with my Mama. She had married this bohemian fella up there in Waco and Mama was a honky tonk gal. I went to live with them and I bet less than a month later my grandmother passed away. She got all her bills paid and everything, she knew she was going to die. I don't know how she knew. Them old people, I don't know how they know, but they'd go pay all their bills and then bam, there'd they go. Pretty amazing.

The song on the album that you wrote with Eddy, "That's What She Said Last Night," is a heck of a rockin' tune. That is some smokin' rock and roll there Billy.

Yeah, he came up with that idea and we worked on it. That first part is his, and I just did the rest of it. I wished he'd been there to play it. He could rock really hard. But he comes through great.

And then there is the old school, Texas honky tonk song, "Drinkin' Back" that is country the way it used to be.

I kind of wanted everyone to know that I'm an old fashion feller. I like that old fashioned music, I really do.

Nashville kind of needs that sound right now.

Yeah, some good country music wouldn't hurt 'em. But, that's their business. It will roll around. What happens is they do all that stuff until they run out of money and then they get right back down to basics. Then they get the money up again and go and do that other stuff again. We changed things though. We came out with Honky Tonk Heroes (1973) and nobody wanted to hear it. The record execs didn't want it coming in because it was going to change everything, and it did. And everybody started writing that way and then they found out that, heck, it was a jump up instead of a jump down. People don't like change if it's working for 'em. If it hadn't been for that shot in the arm I don't think country music would have jumped up like it did. I believe it would have just laid there.

Speaking of the business, you recieved the first ever Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. What was that like?

Oh, that meant a lot. It's the first one (award) I got. The first one for personal stuff, yeah. That's a good bunch of folks. That's the kind of stuff I do anyway.

The members of the Flatlanders inducted you, didn't they?

Yeah, they got up there and did a number on me. I called them the Flatheads after that and got back at them a little bit. They went up there and started telling stories about somebody and I thought, "By God, that sounds a lot like me." All of a sudden they told one about me riding up on the porch with my motorcycle and hitting Harlan Howard's door. I was a big Harlan Howard fan, I'd never had met him, so I just rode up and it was a low porch. I rode my motorcycle up there and hit the door. I revved it up and he come out there and said "What in the hell is going on?" He was a big old guy too. I didn't know he was that big. He said, "Who in the hell are you?" I said, "Well I'm Billy Joe Shaver and I'm the greatest songwriter that ever lived." He said, "Well, I thought I was. Park that thing and come on in and let's drink some whiskey." We drank and became great friends right on up to his death.

A lot of your songs, like "We" on the new album, are brutally honest. You are not afraid to tell it like it is.

Actually, I believe what has sustained me is that I've stayed honest and simple. As simple as I can be. Try to make whatever I say just mean one thing. No double meanings or anything like that. It's pretty hard to do, really. Simplicity don't need to be greased.

Buy Tramp on Your Street at AMAZON.COM

A lot folks like it when you and RS Field work together. How did you guys hook up to do this new album together?

He produced Tramp On Your Street, which is my best record I think. It sold more than the rest of them. It's probably sold more than 500,000 copies about now, and that's a lot for me. The thing is, he did such a great job, and he called me. I had one more record to do for New West Records but I had that heart attack and I just didn't think I was up for it. I really didn't want to do it anymore. You know how you get when you get hit like that? It kind of knocks you down for a while. And I decided, well, I wouldn't be able to honestly do a good record so I bowed out with New West. I was kind of floatin' around and RS called me up and said, "Billy, you really need to do another record. Let me try and put something together." And he did. He put something together with these people down at Compadre Records down in Houston and they are just wonderful people. They treat me right and done a lot of good things for me. I couldn't be with a better bunch. I did a video that will be out soon on 'Freedom's Child,' and they just about did everything they said they were going to do. They are out of Houston, Texas, which is very good. We're pretty much on the same page, you know, everybody's real blunt and honest. I kind of like that. We are doing fine, the records selling real good.

Billy, in doing research for this interview I came across an interview with Eddy in which he talked of running into Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, in a bar and they hung out. Eddy said that Roger said right off the bat that he was a big fan of yours. There are people from all walks of life that are into Billy Joe Shaver.

Yeah, he got so drunk he fell off his stool. They had to carry him out. (laughing) But he is a cool dude. I like him, though. I'm up here right now at the Stockyards (in Fort Worth), Billy Bob's club up here, looking for Nick Nolte. He called and wanted me to come up and see him. He's a good friend of mine, the movie star? He's a big fan and I've been knowing him for 15 years I guess.

He's been known to drink a beer or two.


"(laughs) I think he is off the sauce now."

Yeah, with a little help too.

Yeah, he's about like all the rest of us. He gave it a shot, and went on.

How long have you known Robert Duvall?

He was a big fan of mine to, still is. As a matter of fact his girlfriend, Luciana Pedraza, is doing a documentary on me. They have already got it shot. It should premier down here in Texas in Austin and Lady Bird Johnson is going to introduce it. It's going to be pretty cool.

Well, as far as Robert goes, his film Lonesome Dove is probably my favorite movie of all time.

Boy, I'm telling you what, that's about my favorite too. We stay in touch all the time. He is in Argentina right now with his girlfriend. Their dancin', their in love and everything. It's a great thing to see.

Buy The Apostle at AMAZON.COM

You were in his movie The Apostle.

Yeah, I was. That was my first movie. The first thing he told me when I came up, he said, "Billy, every chance you get, don't act." It's funny because he cast me as an ex-alcoholic, which, actually, I guess I am. I would walk around with a glass of water in my hand and chewing gum and that's about all I did when I quit. So, it was pretty natural for me. He put me in another movie that he just filmed in Austin called 'Secondhand Lions'. He and Michael Caine did it, and I just got a little ole bitty part in there.

There is a song on the album I have to ask about. What exactly is "Wild Cow Gravy?"

That's what my kinfolks would eat, used to when they would get hungry up in the hills in Arkansas. My cousin Donny told me about it. My Mama had passed away and we were all over at the house, standing around over there talking, and he said, "You know, if it hadn't been for wild cow gravy us Watson's,' Watson was my mother's maiden name, he said, 'us Watson's wouldn't have made it." I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, if it wouldn't have been for wild cow gravy... " I said, "What the hell is wild cow gravy?" He said, "Well, whence't we'd get all hungry we would have to have something to eat. We would run up an old mama cow out there, an old wild one out there in the woods somewhere, and we'd head and hill her. And Aunt Claudie would duck walk up there to her with a fruit jar and we'd get that milk out of there. That milk was so rank that you could mix it with water and eat gravy for a week." And then he said that they would find some other critter to eat or something. They were poor back then. And that's where that came from. That's the real deal though, right there.

The song "Magnolia Mother's Love" is just you and a mandolin, and it is wonderful. What inspired you to write such a great song? Obviously the fact that it is about a tree that you and your Mom planted is what makes it special for you.

It's true. My mother brought in a little ole sprig one day and it grew to be a real giant tree. Actually that very same day that Donny, Danny, Donny I think, I got so many of 'em, told me about the gravy, I was standing there and I had my hands behind my back, just kind of cupped. I thought somebody put some kind of piece of pie in my hand but it was a petal from that magnolia tree. They are real big you know, and it hit in my hand and here comes the song. Bam! I was born to be a songwriter. No doubt about it.

But then, on the day that you finished writing that song, you went over to your sister's house where that actual tree was to play it for her. Do I have that right?

Well, bless her heart. I hate to tell that story. But, you know, I came over there the day that I wrote that song, I came over there and I had finished it, and I came over there and there is a guy loading that tree up. I said, "Man, he done cut it down." I started to go in and just raise hell about it, and then I thought, "No, I ain't going to make her feel bad." So, I left. Finally, about a week later, I never did play her the song, I asked her, "Why in the world would you cut that tree down?" Because, I gave her half the house. Mama had left half the house to me and I just gave her my half because she had kids running in and out of her ears and everything. She said, "Well, we just didn't have nowhere to park. That dern tree was taking up all the room." Oh well, that's progress I guess. Anyway, at the time that I wrote it the tree was there. So, it meant a lot to me and still does.

I was told by a friend of yours to ask you about winning the Chicken Shit prize at Jenny's Bar?

Yeah, (laughs) I did. I won that. Yeah, Ginny's Longhorn Bar. Old Dale Watson was playing over there, he was a big favorite of mine, and I had never been there. I'd heard about it and I thought, "well, somebody just made this up," but sure enough they had a Dominecker hen, of all things, and that hen was in there and I had two tickets. What it is, it's laid out like numbers on a bingo deal or something, and there is chicken feed all over them numbers. And the chicken's in there underneath the chicken wire which is squared off with plenty of room for the chicken to get around in. The chicken eats that food and when the chicken finally shits, if it shits on your number you win. I talked to that hen, I said, "Look, I done put you in one of my songs," you know, that Dominecker hen in that 'Black Rose' song? I talked to that hen and they were filming this, and you can't rig them things, the chickens going to shit where the chickens going to shit. I kept telling this chicken, "Come on now," and I'll be danged if that chicken didn't shit right on my number. It'd beat all I've ever seen. I went plum crazy.

One of your big breaks as a young man was Bobby Bare hiring you on as a songwriter. How did that play out?

I had came in the day before and his father-in-law, last name was Hollondeck I believe, and his father-in-law was working there and he said, "Bobby ain't here right now. He'll be in tomorow, he's doing some kind of movie or something." I came in the next day and Bobby had a six-pack sitting on his desk and just about drank all of it. I noticed that he was about three sheets to the wind and he said, "Come on in. You the guy Harlan told me about?" I said, "Yeah." I met Harlan at the Country Corner at a beer joint. We got talkin' beer talk, and he said, "I'll get you in over there." So, I came over and Bobby says, "Well, where's your tape?" I said, "Hell, I ain't got no tape." He said, "Well, I need a tape. I can't help you if you ain't got it on tape." I said, "Well, ok," and started walking on out. I guess he felt sorry for me or something, I don't know. He said, "Well, let me see your lyrics. I'll read over them and we'll see." I said, "I ain't got 'em. I got 'em in my head.' He said, 'No, that ain't going to do. You're just going to have to go somehwere's else." I said, "Alright," so I headed out the door. I had my guitar in my hand and he said, "Can you play that guitar?" I said, "Yeah, I can play it." He said, 'I'll tell you what I'll do. You sit down here and you just start one song for me and if I don't like it I'm going to stop you. And then you are going to get up and you are going to leave, and that's going to be the end of that, and you'll never come back, I'll never see you again." I said, "That's fair enough." So I sat down and I started playing 'Evergreen' and I got about half way through and he stopped me. So, I started gathering my shit up to get out of there, you know. He said, "No. no, no, no. Don't stop," and he hollered out there and said, "Harlan, right us up a contract on this boy here. We got us a songwriter."

Bobby is from up where I am from along the Ohio River.

Yeah, I know. Ironton. I've been up there with him several times. After he hired me he gave me 50 bucks a week, and let me live in his office. A little old bitty cubby hole. I got me a number three washtub, and I worked out of there for about a year or so. The thing is, that very day he said, "Billy, you have got to give me a ride home.' I had an old pickup truck, and it was snowing, ice all over the ground, but we had to go over to the clubhouse first. Someplace where they only let songwriters and stuff in. So, he got me in there and we got in there and he got to drinkin' more and more. I mean he got drunk. Then he managed to get somebody to call his house talkin' to Jeannie Bare, whom I'd never met, or knew none of his folks, and she is trying to tell me how to get him out to the house. I finally got him shoveled into the pickup and and I had the directions and all, and I said, 'Shit, what have I got myself into?' He lived in a house that was up on a hill and there was ice all over the hill. I took a run at it and I got up in the driveway there and I finally got my truck stopped. You know, where it wouldn't slide. Jeannie come running out and we got him out of the truck, and boy, he was heavy too. But he slipped out of our hands and he went sliding down the driveway and he took a turn and there was a ditch down there that had ice in it and it had a dip to it. He hit that dip and he kept kind of going up and down, up and down, till the cat died, you know? Out like a light, he didn't even know what happened. And then we drug him all the way back up to the house, drug him in the house, finally got him throwed over the bed. I, of course, apologized to her, and she apologized to me. And so, that's how we got started.

Well, Billy Joe, you have talked a lot in recent interviews about all the bad things to fall your way in the last few years, with your Mom, and your wife, and your son. What I want to know is how did you pick yourself up and keep going time after time?

Well, that song, 'Day By Day', ( on the new CD), pretty much tells the story. Jesus Christ is my savior, man. I'm a real big Jesus fan. I got Jesus in my heart, I'm a born-again Christian. I'm a sinner first off. I got to tell you, I'm one of the biggest sinners in the world. But, I've got Jesus in my heart and I love God and that's it. Whatever I do I get forgiven for it, and I try not to do anything wrong, but every once in a while I slip. Just like everybody else. None of us are perfect and never will be. But, I try to be as good as I can be. All I have to do is pray and I'm up. God's got his hand on me, I know that. I love Him, and He loves me.

I'll never forget a radio show I heard years ago where a lady called in and talked of going through a big bunch of bad times like you have went through. And her thing was that she was mad at God for letting all of it fall on her. Did you ever have thoughts like that?

Not exactly, no. No, because everything is kind of written, what's going to happen. We see through a glass darkly, man. That's exactly what it is. We just don't see it all. And if we saw it all it'd probably kill us. It would be too much. We'll understand it all by-and-by.

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