Billy Joe Shaver decided to self-produce 14 out of 16 new tracks for The Real Deal. He explains, "It was great to be able to sing the way I want to sing. I could set up the arrangements how I wanted rather than having to fit someone else's."
He was also joined by old and new friends, including the country superstar duo Big & Rich, who co-produced their duet with Shaver on his inspirational masterpiece Live Forever. According to Big Kenny from the duo, "Shaver is a classic poet and a songsmith...the kind of person you can listen to for hours, with a spirit and soul that grabs your attention.". Others who joined Shaver included Nancy Griffith (who sang on the song Valentine), Kimmie Rhodes (West Texas Waltz), Flaco Jimenez (Feliz Navidad), and Kevin Fowler (Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys). The album also contains Shaver's fervent reminder about the power of persistence, Try and Try Again.
Listen to samples:
- Live Forever (with Big and Rich)
- There's No Fool Like an Old Fool
- Livin' a Lovin' Lie
- It Just Ain't There For Me No More
- Jesus Christ is Still The King
- Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys (with Kevin Fowler)
- I Changed My Mind
- Sweet Melody
- Valentine (with Nanci Griffith)
- You Ought to be with Me When I'm Alone
- Down the Road by the Way
- West Texas Waltz (with Kimmie Rhodes)
- The Real Deal
- If the Trailer's A Rockin' Don't Come Knockin'
- Try and Try Again
- Aunt Jessie's Chicken Ranch