Townes Van Zandt poetry
February 24, 2010 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Zandt by David Broza was released. I heard it last night and have ordered my copy.

Townes Van Zandt, was a country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet. He has been posted about on the blue in the past.
posted by bjgeiger (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Previous TVZ on blue and green.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2010

Nice find. I haven't listened to Van Zandt in a long time. I might have seen him at the Winnipeg Folk Festival one year.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2010

Townes Van Zandt was amazing. As Steve Earle put it:

"Townes van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."

It's pretty shocking that even in the internet era, most casual music fans have only heard him covering the Stones on the "Big Lebowski" soundtrack. I think he will have his "Nick Drake Volkswagen ad" moment pretty soon though.

So this is really interesting to me. Not sure about Broza's voice though. He sings a bit like Randy "Macho Man" Savage meets Dan Fogelberg.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2010

And if you like American music at all, you need to see the movie "Heartworn Highways" right now (that's where most of those clips of Townes in the video are from).
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2010

Be Here to Love Me is a good TVZ-specific documentary.
I met some of his kids in Austin. They agreed that he was a great artist, but a terrible dad.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2010

Townes is a better writer, but nobody's voice is as sweet as Guy Clark's. Young, solo acoustic Steve Earle is pretty good too. Unfortunately the more production he adds the worse he sounds. I think his label tried to make him the country Springsteen and it just went sour.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Towns *was* a better writer, rather. Guy's still kicking. Although he did cancel the show I was gonna see last year cause he broke his leg or something.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:45 AM on February 24, 2010

David Braza was one of my favourite Israeli musicians and I am bit disturbed to find out he's been singing in English.
posted by dhruva at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2010

I have to order this for my husband. Thanks for posting it.
posted by immlass at 12:17 PM on February 24, 2010

Townes Van Zandt was fantastic. He's one of my favorite folk/country artists. If you're just checking him out and want to pick up an album, I'd recommend his S/T from 1969.
posted by defenestration at 12:24 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the suggestion, bjgeiger...I'd heard about this, but didn't know it was out.
posted by notsnot at 1:05 PM on February 24, 2010

I was lucky enough to see Steve Earle (Walon!) do a solo acoustic show here in Vancouver as a part of the Olympics. He's the greatest folk singer I've ever seen, and I'll stand on Mr. Zimmerman's coffee table in my bare feet and tell him. (Granted, I never saw Dylan when he was, briefly, a straight folk singer.) Not sure how many more shows he's doing on the TVZ stuff, but it was magic.
posted by docgonzo at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2010

"I've met Bob Dylan and his bodyguards, and I don't think Steve could get anywhere near his coffee table."
— Townes Van Zandt.

I've been in awe of Townes ever since I heard his album "Live at the Old Quarter".

His family still maintains -- it's grown quite a bit since I last looked, and I see that LatOQ has been re-released (yea! goodbye old scratchy record..). This post & that news kinda makes my day; thanx.
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 5:04 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

In the bit on that video, Broza's singing voice is all wrong -- hushed and self-important, like Garrison Keillor talking. The honesty and roughness of Townes' voice was what sold his beautiful, stark lyrics and melodies.

The essential TVZ album is Live at the Old Quarter, Houston. EG: No Place to Fall -- Lungs -- If I Needed You -- Waiting round to die (at 4:15) -- Pancho & Lefty -- Tecumseh Valley (most of these from other shows)

A really great song not on there is Flyin' Shoes; the best I could find was this Lyle Lovett cover.
posted by msalt at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2010

Thanks a lot for this post, bjgeiger.

I'm sad to say that I won't be getting this album, though, even though I love Townes with all my heart. I just don't think this guy and his style and the production he's put behind the lyrics really suit the content. There's a reason why Live at the Old Quarter is Townes's best album, and it's because he wrote the damn songs for guitar and voice, and that was the container they were designed to fill. That's something his producer Jack Clement didn't understand and something it's clear this guy doesn't understand either.

I'm really trying to not be sanctimonious about this. I just think that, from listening to Broza's recordings, that he's made aesthetic choices that conflict with the basic thrust of the material Townes left behind. The charm of Townes's act depends in part on its humility. I know that sounds oxymoronic given that he was willing to get in front of microphones and go on stages, but I don't it is in this case; it gives the whole thing an air of easy familiarity, a little acknowledgement between you and him that this'll all be a lot more fun and worthwhile if we don't take it so seriously. That's why the instrumentation of a single guitar played a little sloppily makes so much sense. That's why this stuff doesn't. It reminds me of what Bill Evans wrote in the liner notes to Kind of Blue --
"There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.
Townes, at his best, had exactly that sort of spontaneity. It's really missing here, and it makes me a little sad.
posted by invitapriore at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2010

« Older Still Life With Rock, Paper & Scissors   |   Delightfully tacky, yet overvalued Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments