Category Archives: Townes Van Zandt

The Best Songs: Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt

The Best Songs: Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt

I first heard this song when Emmylou Harris sang it, then I heard Nanci Griffith’s version on the album, Other voices other rooms. Great interpretations both of them. It made me seek out Townes Van Zandt’s versions, they’re even better!

John Townes Van Zandt I (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997), best known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American singer-songwriter. Many of his songs, including “If I Needed You” and “To Live Is to Fly”, are considered standards of their genre.

While alive, Van Zandt had a small and devoted fanbase, but he never had a successful album or single and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print. In 1983, six years after Emmylou Harris had first popularized it, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song “Pancho and Lefty,” scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Despite achievements like these, the bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins, and on friends’ couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism, and his tendency to tell tall tales. (Wikipedia)

Early version from the album, For the sake of the song:

Late version (more like the one on Our Mother The Mountain):

Continue reading The Best Songs: Tecumseh Valley by Townes Van Zandt

If I needed you by Townes Van Zandt

I have nearly 30 albums by Townes Van Zandt, most of them live and released after he passed away. Most of them better than 99% of everything  released today.

My mother and father are heavy smokers. When we went camping when I was a child we drove in our Opel Record. No safety belts, no windows open, just  lot of smoke and country music.

It is glued into me, I still love those voices, Waylon Jennings, Burl Ives, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt and a whole bunch of other fantastic singers and songwriters.

I don’t mind the smoke as long a s I get the music!

One of my favourite songs from back then is If I Needed You, so sparse and so vulnerable.

My father had a good friend, Reidar, who collected all these great country artists. He was very passionate about the music and he was a very kind man. He died of cancer much too young.

He gave me casettes of fantastic country and western music, I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but he played a big part in shaping my musical taste.

Townes Van Zandt was his doing. Thank you , Reidar!

If I needed you:

Version 2 by Townes (the song starts about two minutes into the video):

It is a popular song that is covered by a lot of artists. Here are a few of the best known ones:

Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle:

Emmylou in 1982, maybe the best cover version!

Don Williams had a hit with Emmylou Harris:

Very understandable, it’s a fantastic interpretation.

If I needed you, would you come to me?
Would you come to me for to ease my pain?
If you needed me, I would come to you.
I would swim the sea for to ease your pain.
Well the night’s forlorn and the morning’s born
And the morning’s born with the lights of love.
And you’ll miss sunrise if you close your eyes,
And that would break my heart in two.

last but not least, Townes Van Zandt again with the masterpiece if I Needed You:

– Hallgeir