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This Charming Man

The ballad, and ballads, of Billy Joe Shaver

"The timing of it," muses Knowles. "I was like, 'Man, are we a rap label?'"

Good question. In the Sopranos episode "The Fleshy Part of the Thigh," an unknown rapper asks one of Tony's lieutenants to help him out — i.e., shoot him — after seeing his producer take seven bullets and the resulting publicity bump his record to No. 1.

Might this unfortunate incident in the Lone Star Saloon parking lot actually be good for business?

Billy Joe Shaver: resemblance to Mount Rushmore not coincidental.
David McClister
Billy Joe Shaver: resemblance to Mount Rushmore not coincidental.

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Billy Joe Shaver performs Friday, August 24, at Goode's Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby, 713-526-9700.

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"Artists have a life," suggests Knowles. "They're regular, normal people, and like all of us, there's mistakes we all make. There's [also] great, positive things we do, and the timing is never predicted. It wasn't predicted that this gentleman would come into a bar and disrespect Billy's wife."

Still, Knowles admits, the shooting has "brought awareness."

For obvious legal reasons, Shaver isn't really supposed to talk about this. But the question hangs in the air all the same. Is it ironic for a man out on bond to be promoting a new gospel album?

"No," says Shaver, matter-of-factly.

"I would not intentionally hurt anybody," he elaborates. "I used to box, and if somebody hits me, I hit 'em back. I wouldn't hit nobody on purpose. I'm really a nice guy. It's just that people ought not be such a bunch of bullies and go around shoving people around. They ought to stop that, you know?

"Stuff happens to me at the weirdest times," he continues, wistfully.

At this point, Shaver is talking about his past, not just that unfortunate springtime Saturday night.

"And it'll be the strangest damn thing," he reckons. "Because it's true: Truth is stranger than fiction, and it happens to me all the time."

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