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The Dude Abides, or this weekend I’ll be listening to…Townes Van Zandt July 24, 2010

Posted by guestposter in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Many thanks to yourcousin for taking up the offer last week…made on foot of the comments here

Okay so here’s my one shot [you sure about that? 🙂 – wbs] at introducing some decent mainstream music (you kind of had to read the last post to get it). Well if not mainstream then at least accessible to the vast majority of folks (hopefully). I don’t remember where I came across Townes Vans Zandt. Like so many other greats he just appeared in my life (thanks dad). The fewer words the words the better, but suffice to say I view him as an Orwellian figure in a scare crow kind of sense whose success destroyed him. Or to quote a more inciteful figure, “Why do we reward our men of genius, our suicides, our madmen, and the generally maladjusted with the melancholy honours of the post humous curiosity? Because we know it is our society which has condemned these men to death” (Cyril Connolly). So without further ado…

Written by yourcousin


1. Crocodile - July 24, 2010

Well done, WbyS.
Watch the great Townes biog film ‘Be Here to Love Me’and you’ll see one of the most moving scenes in cinema, when Townes sings ‘Waiting Around to Die’.


2. Worldbystorm - July 24, 2010

All kudos to yourcousin who wrote it and selected the artist and songs. Just been listening to it. Great stuff.


3. sonofstan - July 24, 2010

I love TvZ, but I also find the outsider mystique a little tiresome: he was a mean fucked- up drunk for most of his life, and I hate the veneration of such figures as somehow endowed with a special heroism (cf your Cyril Connolly quote). It’s like we want our artists to be cripples so we don’t have to feel responsible to the things their art might otherwise force us to consider.


Mary Danforth - July 24, 2010

I beg to differ with you ! I am Townes mother-in-law (and no outsider) and he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was one of the most caring men alive. He would do anything to help others. Especially when he was drunk. .An achoholic, yes. but a mean drunk NO!! You should never presume to belittle someone you don’t even know.


Mark P - July 24, 2010

Thanks for that Mary. Apart from knowing about his alcoholism and having seen his appearances in “Heartworn Highways”, I’ve never really known much about Townes as a person. I’ve only ever known his music, which I love.


yourcousin - July 25, 2010

I would love it if everyone in the world was well adjusted physically and emotionally. I do not celebrate his alcoholism but simply acknowledge that it was a part of his life. If you don’t like it, well deal.


4. goodhardrant - July 24, 2010

Great music for a rainy Saturday – thanks YC.


5. Mark P - July 24, 2010

The performance Crocodile is talking about is probably this one:

It was originally from James Szalpiski’s “Heartown Highways”, an incredible documentary about struggle country musicians. It’s a beautiful song and an incredible performance.

I normally quite like WbS’s “This weekend I’ll be listening to” pieces. My problem with them isn’t that they are too odd or experimental, but that they tend to be a bit parochial. I just am not that interested in Irish bands of the 1980s as a rule. Still, there are plenty of forgotten gems in those threads.

However, Townes Van Zandt was in a different league to most of the acts featured here. I remember spending 20 quid on a special offer in Tower Records for ten of his albums in one set. The best 20 quid I’ve ever spent on music. There is an unbelievable wealth of beautiful, heartfelt, often but not always miserable, songs on those records.

I don’t know what he was like to deal with as a person, but I love some of his records to a degree that occasionally drives people I live with mad.


WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

Erm… have I ever done a “This Weekend I’ll be listening to” on any Irish band of the 1980s apart from Microdisney? I think not. Quite the opposite. They’ve been a broadly Irish free zone.


Mark P - July 25, 2010

Maybe I’m doing you a disservice, WbS. For some reason when I think of those pieces I think of Irish rock bands of the 1980s. That may well be unfair or simply incorrect!


WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

It could be you’re thinking of the pieces at Dublin Opinion which by now are encyclopedic in their breadth and depth.


6. Kevin - July 24, 2010

Can I suggest the live album, Townes Van Zandt Luve at the Old Quarter, Heuston, as well as the soundtrack to the mighty Heartworn Highways. Contains some of the most skeletal – but powerful – renditions of his work and also the greatest intro by an MC to any live album I’ve ever heard: ‘The rest rooms are upstairs … The pool table’s upstairs.’

Steve Earle’s tribute album last year wasn’t half bad either. Particularly that amazing song, ‘Colorado Girl’. The measure of the man’s – admittedly patchy but at times indescribably good – worth that a whole album of covers is absolutely merited.


7. soubresauts - July 25, 2010

Yeah, “Colorado Girl”!

I just came across this live version, where he mixes in the Dylan song…


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