WRITTEN BY Billy Joe Shaver, Eddie Shaver
PERFORMED BY Shaver
APPEARS ON Tramp on Your Street (1993); Unshaven: Live at Smith's Old Bar (1995); Victory (1998); many others
NOTE "Live Forever" is Billy Joe Shaver's best-loved song. He has recorded it many times, both under his own name and under the rubric of Shaver, the band he formed with his late son Eddie.
The older I get, the more I value songs like "Live Forever." More than a simple profession of faith -- the first line is the confident "I'm gonna live forever" -- Billy Joe Shaver explains exactly his understanding of immortality:
- what one creates ("the songs I leave behind me")
- one's children ("Please try to raise your children right")
- love of another person ("Remember someone really loves you")
In this respect, "Live Forever" is unique in that there is no guessing, no resolution of doubt. Shaver knows what it means to "cross that river" and still "always be around." The extent that we can share his understanding resolves some of our own questions about mortality and alleviates the fear of death.
This knowledge came hard for Billy Joe, whose tumultuous personal life reached its nadir on New Year's Eve 2000 when his son and collaborator Eddy died of a heroin overdose. Eddy's mother and Shaver's wife Brenda, who Shaver married and divorced a number of times, passed away the year before along with his mother, both succumbing to cancer.
Although the Shavers wrote "Live Forever" prior to all of this personal tragedy, Billy Joe continues to sing it today. As such it has become a plea to his audience to not make the same mistakes he did. Especially resonant is the verse about children:
You fathers and you mothersbe good to one anotherPlease try to raise your children rightDon't let the darkness take 'emDon't let 'em feel forsakenJust lead 'em safely to the light
The video below emphasizes children, showing a wistful Shaver with the grandchildren he never had.
When it comes to creativity, we can't all be songwriters or authors or painters. But we can appreciate creativity, and in that act recreate a song, a book, a painting and add our grasp of it to the cosmos of art. That's what this blog is about: Evangelizing an art form that contributors care deeply about and find personally meaningful so that we and our readers can participate in a continual cycle of creation and recreation. I hope that Billy Joe Shaver would approve.
LYRICSI'm gonna live foreverI'm gonna cross that riverI'm gonna catch tomorrow nowYou're gonna wanna hold meJust like I've always told youYou're gonna miss me when I'm goneNobody here will ever find meBut I will always be aroundJust like the songs I leave behind meI'm gonna live forever nowYou fathers and you mothersbe good to one anotherPlease try to raise your children rightDon't let the darkness take 'emDon't let 'em feel forsakenJust lead 'em safely to the lightWhen this old world is blown asunderAnd all the stars fall from the skyRemember someone really loves youWe'll live forever you and II'm gonna live foreverI'm gonna cross that riverI'm gonna catch tomorrow now...
Joe Ely with Joel Guzman on accordion: