Brad Meador
  
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Jun 01

Townes

I’m a native Texan and a Texas music fanatic.  I go see Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle and Willie Nelson and the Old 97s every time they come to town.  I have a subscription to Texas Music Magazine.  And when I stop to tune my guitar during a set, I quote Guy Clark by introducing him as the greatest living Texas songwriter because Townes Van Zandt is dead.  (“You spend half your life tuning your guitar and the other half playing out of tune.”)

To the uninitiated, Townes is the guy that wrote Pancho and Lefty.  To the Texas music community, Townes is the stuff of Texas music legend.  He reportedly dreamt an entire song, teaching himself the chords and lyrics in his sleep.  He’s been covered by Willie & Merle, Lyle Lovett, Cowboy Junkies, Norah Jones, Allison Kraus and Robert Plant and countless others.

But I never really got Townes Van Zandt.  I figured out why this week.

A lot of folks hear the lyrics first.  I always hear the performance first.  I can listen to a song 100 times before I ever really listen to the lyrics.  If the melody and the groove don’t grab me, I’m unlikely to listen again.  I’ve listened to Townes’ albums and even saw him play once in Houston, but his performances didn’t draw me in enough to get to the heart of the songs.

image All that changed with the release of Steve Earle’s Townes.  Steve’s performance brings outs the best in Townes’ songs.  I’ve heard Townes’ recordings of Brand New Companion several times before, but it took Steve’s rendition to make me hear the beauty in it.  The same can be said for every song on the album (Lungs, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, etc.).  Highly recommended. 

And when you’re done devouring Earle’s album, go watch the documentary Be Here To Love Me – a heartbreaking tale of artistry and addiction.

Now I’m going to dust off all of my Townes albums and give them another spin.