Leave it to The King to make this song sound just as good as the original.
George Strait covered Billy Joe Shaver’s “Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me” for the forthcoming tribute album, Live Forever: A Tribute To Billy Joe Shaver, and it’s safe to say he did his fellow Texas native more than justice (not that we ever expected anything less, though).
The song was originally recorded by the one and only Waylon Jennings for his 1983 classic Honky Tonk Heroes album, after Waylon had invited Billy Joe to Nashville to write the songs for the next record he was working on.
Waylon’s idea to have Billy Joe come write for him in the first place was inspired after he heard him sing “Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me” before the 1972 Dripping Springs Reunion, which was the start of Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July picnic.
RCA had granted Waylon creative control over his work at the time to avoid losing him to Atlantic Records, and because his usual producer Chet Atkins was reluctant to release a record consisting of songs written by an unknown songwriter at the time, Waylon replaced him with Tompall Glaser.
He also replaced the Nashville session musicians with his own band, The Waylors (later Waymore’s Outlaws). Gotta love Waylon…
Anywho, this song was never released as a single, but it remains one of the best deep cuts on that iconic record, which is one of the most recognizable from the outlaw country movement of the 1970’s and early 80’s.
George says it was an honor to get to cover it:
“It was an honor to be a part of this tribute to one of Texas’s best. He got down deep into the very soul of country.
RIP Billy Joe. See you down the road amigo.”
This new tribute album was co-produced by Charlie Sexton and Freddy Fletcher, and features an incredible cast of artists including Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Nathaniel Rateliff, Ryan Bingham and Nikki Lane, Steve Earle, Edie Brickell, Rodney Crowell, Margo Price, Allison Russell, and Amanda Shires.
Set to drop on November 11th, they previously released two singles, “Live Forever,” featuring Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams, and Miranda Lambert’s version of “I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be A Diamond Someday).”
Make sure you give this one a spin today:
“Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me”