you’ve got pretty eyes…

I saw Townes Van Zandt twice and I remember every moment.

I have seen Steve Earle I think four times and I have no memory of any of them. This is entirely my fault or it was that last drink for sure before we headed to the venue. I have more memories of his appearance on The Wire.

I was browsing Amazon as you do in these Covid times and I discovered Townes by Steve Earle and the Dukes for fifteen dollars. I realized about this time that I owned no Steve Earle records and also that Copperhead Road and Guy were also all fifteen dollars, So forty five of my dollars headed to Jeff Bezos and I contributed again to the enslavement of the working classes and the destruction of the local record store. But I was getting those records so I was being a good consumer and keeping the economy moving in this time. After all personal gratification is more important than ethics.

This has caused no limits to my cognitive dissonance about commercialism. I am the “festive consumer consumed by the feast.” As someone might say. So what to do when your options to buy things you need are so limited these days? I am however going to have to think about this carefully and what it means for myself. Of course this is a problem that began with the Sears catalog in the USA when you could even buy a mail order house.Picture 1 of 1

Of course you can do that on Amazon pretty much now:

To the records though!

Steve Earle’s quote about Townes Van Zandt is well known, something about cowboy boots, Bob Dylan and coffee tables.

The record is what you would hope for, not too reverent, the songs are there but they are Townes’ and he seldom wrote a bad one. It’s a good collection covering Townes career and played really well and Earles lived in voice is perfect for the songs. The thing you are left with at the end though is a real sadness that more people in the USA dont know about the national treasure that was Townes Van Zandt. Maybe though now you can get them so easily mail order there will be a resurgence and it may even be worth Jeff Bezos getting a little richer for Townes name to get out there.

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I guess we will get to the other records another day I am going to lay this one again. Its worth it for Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria.

I can ease your mind and take away your cares…

I remember hating anything that could be considered country music.

I remember scoffing at the thought that anything from Nashville would be worth hearing.

I remember the first time I heard Townes Van Zandt and all that changed.

We were living off a small road close to Sefton Park, it was a terrace with a stoop. We shared one room on the ground floor of the building, the ground floor was cheaper as it was more likely to get broken into, we adopted the principle of leaving a window open thinking that our blasé approach to security would ensure we never lost anything. For the larger part this seemed to work, we only got broken into once and they never took anything as our meager possessions were to say the least rudimentary, generally second hand and looked the worse for wear.

One Sunday morning as we tried to overcome the excesses of the night before with coffee and cheese and onion pasties we were drawn into the street by the sound of something different. There were guitars mandolins and a texas drawl, “So close and yet so far away…” there was a yearning a tenderness and a forlorn hope. “You built your tower so strong and tall, can’t you see it’s got to fall some day…”

There was a truth here beyond the usual punk rock and reggae playing in the street on a Sunday morning. Off in search of these sounds, actually only to the next stoop in the terrace. Sitting smoking with this unusual music pouring out of the window was our smoking neighbor leaning against the rail of his stoop listening to Delta Momma Blues by Townes Van Zandt. Many a wise word was spoken and many a thought shared with the understanding that Townes may well be a genius.

Later on we learned he had been covered by everyone, was an unpredictable performer and may well be America’s greatest song writer, but that’s only an opinion and everyone has one.

The covers classic Townes, the nonchalant observer of life leaning against a New York tenement stoop as a young couple make out in the shadows. At times simultaneously light and dark the album ends with the harrowing Nothin’.

The album ends with the final thought:

“Your back aint strong enough

For burdens…”

and maybe there was never a truer final statement on any record.

To be honest I still don’t care for too much country music, although I am now willing to admit there may be some fine songwriting going on.

Nashville has produced some fine records by lots of people.

I guess I hav grown a little, I still however have to sit still if I happen to hear Townes Van Zandt, his plaintive voice demands attention, his lyrics speak a truth sometimes regardless of the arrangement around the song.