I had never heard about Townes Van Zandt until the late seventies when, on Emmylou Harris’s ‘Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town’ she covered his Poncho and Lefty. It enjoyed the song but it failed to get me to check his own albums any further. One of the most probable explanations for that is that I never came across one. It wasn’t till many years later that I owned a copy of ‘At My Window’ and a live album.
However despite this and the many people who have extolled the virtues of his recordings and, in particular, songs I suppose I haven’t ever found myself in the Townes ‘club.’ A couple of years back Steve Earle’s ‘Townes’ album only succeeded in putting me off if I’m honest. I remember us returning from holiday and a pile of records awaited me in my car from AC HQ. I gave Steve’s album a try but after enduring it for half an hour my family,as one, begged me to take it off. I got their pain.
So I am approaching a special on Townes with some hesitation. Part of me is loving catching up (I’m reading ……’s biography and listening to all the songs) but another part is finding this strange, slightly unpleasant character quite a hard nut to crack. I suppose it all comes down to finding a song which you want to play and play again. The only song of Townes that has (so far) come into that category is If You Needed Me and I must say that’s a song any writer would have wanted to write.
So as we approach what would have been his 70th year let me open up this particular blog to you, the listener. many of you have asked us to pay proper tribute to the man and we are delighted to be doing that. But we need some input too. What is so special about Townes Van Zandt? Why is he so highly respected amongst his peers? What are the key albums and which songs would we be foolish to omit? Do join the blog for this particular quest and don’t be afraid to keep us right or equally let us know if his music has passed you by.
Richard Murdoch and myself started this show by declaring to each other that we loved country music but knew very little about it. In the same muddled way we hope we can bring you some of the greatness in Townes Van Zandt and reflect the passion his fans have had for his records over the course of over 40 years. So if you are new to the blog, welcome along ..come on in the digital water’s lovely.