Townes Van Zandt
The Best of Townes Van Zandt
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2002, Volume 9, #7
Written by John Metzger
Among songwriters, Townes Van Zandt is a legend. Artists from Steve Earle to Willie Nelson have long paid tribute to the Texas-born poet, who died of a heart attack five years ago at the age of 52. Among the general population, however, Van Zandt is far less known, perhaps due to his sporadic output and nomadic existence on the fringes of society. His words were simple, his stories bleak. And the dark truths he revealed seemed perfectly suited for the stark, intimate settings of the smoky blues bars and folk cafes that he often frequented.
Fortunately, itís the quiet, acoustic renditions from which The Best of Townes Van Zandt is composed. Some tracks are taken from Van Zandtís early recordings, while others capture the bard in a live setting. Either way, the album is a haunted affair that delves deep into the pitfalls of life itself. Even at their most touching ó the tender To Liveís to Fly or the upbeat If I Needed You ó Van Zandtís songs seem hinged to the dark depression that often cloaked the singer. Still, he was a master storyteller and wordsmith, and itís hard not to deeply connect with the emotions so strongly conveyed through his lyrics. From the nightmarish vision of love and life in Our Mother the Mountain to the distanced relationship of Tower Song, Van Zandt captures the agony that life can sometimes deliver, albeit with a poetís eye for the tragic beauty that often comes with it.
The Best of Townes Van Zandt is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box