I’m Gonna Fly
November 19, 2021 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I have no way of knowing, but I’ve been told that was the last recording Townes ever did. He died a few months later, leaving me with the memory of a timeless moment where, when filtered through the guy that was Townes Van Zandt, I sat there fully understanding how a “heart can only make one sound / like a whippoorwill in the midnight.” Kimmie Rhodes gives us the lowdown on a beautiful song, and what it was like to sing it with a beautiful person.
posted by dancestoblue (11 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Beautifully sad song and story, thanks for that.

I first heard about Townes Van Zandt when a friend recommended Pancho and Lefty and Waitin' Around to Die.
posted by clawsoon at 5:01 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


A fine song which stepped into the same stream as Blaze Foley's If I Could Only Fly. There was some shared strain and feeling in the common air then.
posted by y2karl at 5:35 PM on November 19


That song has beautiful lyrics, she is an excellent writer / performer in her own right. Yes her songs get sung by famous performers, because they are so good, and she is so talented. I love her voice!
posted by Oyéah at 6:45 PM on November 19


If there's ever been a sadder, longer, more tragic and public demise I've yet to hear of it - and if there's ever been a sadder, more tragic song than "A Song For", which he told his last wife was a suicide note two + years before this studio encounter occurred, I've yet to hear it either.

Ribbons of love, please keep me true sane
Until I reach home on the morrow
Never, never to wander again
I'm weak and I'm weary of sorrow

London to Dublin, Australia to Perth
I gazed at your sky, I tasted your earth
Sung out my heart for what it was worth
Never again shall I ramble

There's nowhere left in this world where to go
My arms, my legs, they're a-trembling
Thoughts both clouded and blue as the sky
Not even worth the remembering

Now as I stumble and reel to my bed
All that I've done, all that I've said
Means nothing to me, I'd soon as be dead
All of this world be forgotten

No words of comfort, no words of advice
Nothing to offer a stranger
Gone the love, gone the spite
It just doesn't matter no longer

My sky's getting far, the ground's getting close
My self going crazy, the way that it does
I'll lie on my pillow and sleep if I must
Too late to wish I'd been stronger
Too late to wish I'd been stronger
posted by thecincinnatikid at 7:48 AM on November 20 [4 favorites]


That was grim, gonna go listen to Marie to cheer myself up
posted by thelonius at 8:22 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]


I think I saw a video once where someone asked him for guitar advice and he said to take your guitar and go live under a bridge for a year or two, until you can play music on it. I don't think he was joking.
posted by thelonius at 8:35 AM on November 20 [4 favorites]


I actually had written some about my love of this record, and of this song in particular. But I really dislike putting in any commentary on a post that I put up; if the post is strong enough it will stand on its own, and anything I write at the beginning of a thread that I put up is in GYOB territory. I'm to be a reporter, and not to include color commentary. Just the facts, show whatever it is that needs shown by putting in good links. Honestly, I was really surprised at the detail that Rhodes wrote about this song -- made it easy-peasy for me. Anyways, here is what led me to be curious about it all.

West Texas Heaven is a favorite record of mine since first I heard it -- here's Kimmie Rhodes, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt. Kimmie wrote some great songs and wrote on the linked page how the whole thing fell together, wrote about her process in general and on that song in particular.

So many times as I've listened to I'm Gonna Fly I've thought that Townes was giving his all, that he was giving his last, that he was dying in this song. I'd seen him perform not too long before this record was made and he was in end stages of alcoholism; I was grateful to see him perform in an intimate setting but it was a sadness, too, to see him so devastated. I wrote earlier today that it's like we were watching him dying, right up there on stage.

Alcoholism is such a nasty illness. It's like pouring acid into a leather sack -- that sack can contain gold just fine but acid just eats it up.

~~~~~

A fine song which stepped into the same stream as Blaze Foley's If I Could Only Fly. There was some shared strain and feeling in the common air then.

posted by y2karl at 7:35 PM on November 19

Here's a great interview of Gurf Morlix
, which focuses on Foley and Van Zandt, how their friendship was both good news and bad news for both of them, that it played to their strengths and to their weaknesses. And a absolutely comical (and magical) story about Van Zandt and a saxophone; my younger brother is a sax player, I forwarded this story on to him.

~~~~~~

I hope you also love the song, as I do, I hope you enjoyed to read the story behind it.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:00 PM on November 20 [2 favorites]


Great read with Gurf Morlix - his great work producing and playing with Slaid Cleaves also follows in that TVZ / Foley tradition
posted by thecincinnatikid at 12:53 PM on November 21


... Gurf Morlix - his great work producing and playing with Slaid Cleaves also follows...
posted by thecincinnatikid at 2:53 PM on November 21

Yeah, and his production work with Lucinda Williams and then, if I recall correctly, with Mary Gauthier -- seems that good things happen when he's around......
posted by dancestoblue at 3:51 PM on November 21


Edit: Great interview with Gurf Morlix - bad brain watching basketball.

But yeah, he's done some crazy kickass work with Foley, Williams, Cleaves, Guathier and a bunch of others - been privileged to see him touring with Slaid on a couple of tours playing to rooms of maybe 100-200 fans. So weird how some incredibly talented artists can spend decades on the cusp of "success" and never quite make it out of the van and the local live music clubs.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 7:10 PM on November 21


So weird how some incredibly talented artists can spend decades on the cusp of "success" and never quite make it out of the van and the local live music clubs.
posted by thecincinnatikid at 9:10 PM on November 21

If you ever want to see this writ large, go to the Kerrville Folk Festival. First time I went I had this schedule, maybe 40 acts over 5 nights, and I don't know that I knew any of them, and I was just thinking "Oh, this will be so cute. It's nice of me to support these unknowns." and then get blown out of my shoes, one act after the next. It's unbelievable. In the truest sense of that word -- really hard to believe. Hard for me to credit.

So much of it is just luck. Good luck or bad, or timing, good or bad.

I live in Austin now, so many fantastic musicians, often playing no cover, pass a bucket for tips. I saw Calvin Russell at The Black Cat, album release party for "Soldier" a three dollar cover charge. At that time, if a festival in Europe was having low sales they'd put Russell on the bill and it'd sell out. Prophet in his home land, that sort of thing.

I went into Texas French Bread one morning, and this nice young girlish woman who sold me the roll and coffee told me that she plays, and told me when/where, and I thought that I should be nice, and support these little musicians, so I made it to that show, and got blown out of my shoes. Abra Moore, and her boyfriend was this killer musician with all of these killer musician friends who wanted to play in that band, Abra is just so great and that band was so tight and so loud and pretty much just perfect, it was a favorite act for a couple of years.

I go on. It's a topic that always hooks me.....
posted by dancestoblue at 9:41 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


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