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.

Pancho and Lefty:

Waitin’ around to die (song starts 1:38 into the video, but you should see it all!):

If I needed you (live TV,1975):


Here are my top 11 Townes Van Zandt songs:

May he rest in peace in the tower of song!

Lungs (audio):

Nanci Griffith & Townes Van Zandt – Tecumseh Valley (1993):

Snowin’ on Raton:

For the sake of the song:

No Place to fall:

Sanitarium Blues (with a nice slide show):

– Hallgeir