Category Archives: Townes Van Zandt

The Saddest Songs in History: Townes Van Zandt’s Marie


Townes Van Zandt’s Marie from his album, No Deeper Blue

Marie is one of the most harrowing but touching songs ever written; if you’re not affected in some way by this tune upon hearing it, then you have no soul!  I’m kind of joking (but not much…)
No other songwriter brings out emotions the way Townes do, and that’s why his songs stand the test of time.

Willie Nelson recorded several of his songs, including this one. His version is on the album, Poet, a tribute album. He was nominated for a Grammy for it. Of course, he lost, but Townes’s music has often been like that–it is underappreciated  and mainly unknown by the  masses. Willie Nelson’s version is incredible, but it pales in comparison to Townes’s original.

Townes Van Zandt – Marie (Solo Sessions, January 17, 1995):

Continue reading The Saddest Songs in History: Townes Van Zandt’s Marie

Mar 07: The late Townes Van Zandt was born in 1944


“I’m trying to define the relationship between man and the universe,….. often it’s between man and man, or man and woman, or man and the cosmos. Whatever song comes through the door I’m happy with.… I’m lucky just to play the guitar and sing.”
~TVZ (on the purpose behind his songwriting)

“Figures like Townes Van Zandt remind us that the wandering bard, that American archetype, is still very much with us—and his music will live long after the voices that declare it in or out of fashion have been stilled or forgotten.”
~Robert Palmer (New York Times/Deep Blues/++)

“I lived in Fort Worth till I was 8, Midland till 9, Billings, Montana, till 12, Boulder, Colorado till 14, Chicago till 15 … Houston till I was 21. And then I started traveling.”
~TVZ (to Contemporary Musicians (CM) in 1992)

If I Needed You:

Continue reading Mar 07: The late Townes Van Zandt was born in 1944

Steve Earle covers Townes Van Zandt (videos)

steve earle townes van zandt


..You know, Dylan didn’t even talk to me for the whole first month we were on the road. I thought that’s how it was going to be, but he eventually started talking to me, the way that Dylan talks. We talked a lot after that, but did we ever have a conversation? I think not. [laughs] I don’t think that’s what it is. A lot of it has to do with my ideas about Bob Dylan. He’s fuckin’ Bob Dylan and I’m Steve Earle. We’re going to communicate differently, and what I think about Bob Dylan is as much who I am, just because of my job, what I do. I am who I am as much because of Bob Dylan as anybody. Just like what we had talked about Townes [Van Zandt]. Townes was fully aware that Bob Dylan invented his job. Make no mistake about that. I am, too.
~Steve Earle (pitchfork interview 2007)

“About 2:30 in the morning, Townes walked in, It was the first time I’d ever been in an environment with him where we weren’t separated by a microphone. And he had on this beautiful buckskin jacket. And Townes started a craps game and lost every dime that he had. And that jacket. Within 15 minutes. And I thought, ‘My hero.’ ”
~Steve Earle (npr music)

Steve Earle has covered Townes Van Zandt many times, even release an album with cover songs (“Townes” in 2009). Here is a collection of videos I found on youtube – Great stuff!

Pancho And Lefty (Live in Sydney – April 2012):

Continue reading Steve Earle covers Townes Van Zandt (videos)

Jan 1: Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

Townes and Hank

Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), born Hiram King Williams, is regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

John Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997), best known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American Texas Country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet. Many of his songs, including “If I Needed You,” “To Live is to Fly,” and “No Place to Fall” are considered standards of their genre.


Continue reading Jan 1: Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

Townes Van Zandt: His 11 best songs


Marie she didn’t wake up this morning
She didn’t even try
She just rolled over and went to Heaven
My little boy safe inside

I laid them in the sun where somebody’d find them
Caught a Chesapeak on the fly
Marie will know I’m headed south
So’s to meet me by and by

Marie will know I’m headed south
So to meet me by and by

– Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt is one of the greatest songwriters in music-history. To narrow down my choice to just 11 songs is a pain. His 9 studio albums, and some compilations released after his death in 97 are so full of great songs that my task has been nearly impossible. I could pick 11 other songs in his songbook that are just as good, but today this is my list.


Kurt Wolff (allmusic):
Townes Van Zandt’s music doesn’t jump up and down, wear fancy clothes, or beat around the bush. Whether he was singing a quiet, introspective country-folk song or a driving, hungry blues, Van Zandt’s lyrics and melodies were filled with the kind of haunting truth and beauty that you knew instinctively. His music came straight from his soul by way of a kind heart, an honest mind, and a keen ear for the gentle blend of words and melody. He could bring you down to a place so sad that you felt like you were scraping bottom, but just as quickly he could lift your spirits and make you smile at the sparkle of a summer morning or a loved one’s eyes — or raise a chuckle with a quick and funny talking blues. The magic of his songs is that they never leave you alone.

Continue reading Townes Van Zandt: His 11 best songs