what do you do when you get laid off from one of the most wonderful day jobs and have absolutely no money for film, food or rent? you buy the record youve always been wanting. i may be irrational (and very broke) but i’m still smiling.
If you’ve never listened to Townes Van Zandt, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. He’s the real deal, a man who wrote some of the saddest songs you’ll ever hear and lived a few too many of them himself. If you’re new to his work, though, I’d recommend you start with this live double-album, Live At the Old Quarter. It’s got almost all his best songs with no studio trickery–just one man and his acoustic guitar, playing for a crowded room held still and quiet. I chose this particular track–“Fraternity Blues”–because it displays something about Zandt that wasn’t always obvious: The man had one hell of a sense of humor.
Yes, I let this blog slip a ton. I think for my second post I’ll be trying something a bit different. I’ll be talking about individual albums instead of artists in general. For some (like what will follow this brief introduction), this will include a bit of info on how I discovered the artist. That was part of the reason I started this in the first place, and I think trying to cover EVERYTHING about an artist was both too much work and too general to be effective. So, without further ado, post #2:
Townes Van Zandt is an amazing songwriter. So you don’t like country music, that’s fine with me. You don’t have to. Just know that, by writing off an entire genre like that, you’re really doing yourself a disservice.
I was first introduced to TVZ at the Belmont bar in Hamtramck on the 4th of July, 2010. Chris Tait/Tait Nucleus? of the Electric Six was bartending. I was there with my roommate, who was doing coke on the back patio while fireworks were going off throughout the neighborhood. If I am not mistaken, there was a playlist put out by DJ Jazzy Jeff of “Fresh Prince” fame playing that night. At some point, this song came on:
I had never been too big on country up until then, but apparently it effected me enough to make we want to remember it. I did what I always did in that situation (having yet to join the rest of the world in smartphone ownership) and sent myself a text with some of the lyrics that I could make out: “Close your eyes, I’ll be here in the morning”.
The problem was, I did not remember doing that the next day. All I knew was that I had a really creepy-sounding text in my phone. I kept it, thinking that it may one day prove to be important. I can’t remember how long it took me to look up the lyrics in google, but it was a while. When I finally did, though, I started to explore the artist a bit more and I loved what I found.
Live at the Old Quarter is easily TVZ’s best album. I don’t usually go for live albums, but this is how he’s meant to be listened to. All of his other albums are way over-produced to fit into the trends found in country music at the time. TVZ’s music has always been about two things, though: his voice and the guitar. That’s what’s so great about Live…, that’s all you get. And it’s wonderful.
Fans of the show True Detective may recognize this song, a particular favorite of mine:
It’s one of the rare tracks of his for which the studio version sounds pretty good, but the solo version is just so much better. Pretty much everything he wrote that was worth playing at that show he played, too. Not much is missing. The only song that springs to mind is German Mustard, but, well, the studio version pretty much nailed it that time:
My favorite part, though? His jokes. He’s a real soft-spoken guy, but he can deliver a joke very adeptly. Somehow his demeanor just makes them more funny. They’re a bit off-color, maybe not meant for polite company, but I do plan to memorize and tell them to people.
It’s a long album, but it is really worth the effort. If you’re a fan of great songwriters, this guy often gets overlooked. He’s right up there with Dylan and Prine in my book, and that’s mighty fine company.
Oh! And if you are so inclined, there is an excellent documentary about his life (which is genuinely fascinating). The trailer is below:
Townes Van Zandt - “No Place to Fall” (Live at The Old Quarter, Houston, TX)
A great live version of this Townes track, Stu and I have spent many a whiskey hazed night crying inside together to this one and others from the king of despondency.
Recently, I’ve been displaced and sort of vagabonding again. There is a clear end to this current displacement, but those old memories come back so quickly. This song fills my head many days.
For several years, Townes Van Zandt has been one of the artists that some of my closest bro-friends and I have listened to together when times were too hard for talking (Gram Parsons being the other artist). Gallagher, Derek, and Stu have shared those moments with me where we just poured the whiskey and listened to songs like “No Place to Fall,” letting Townes do the speaking, the weeping, the feeling for us.
So, as of late, I’ve had to ask for a place to crash, and I can’t help but hear myself singing, "Well, if I had no place to fall and I needed to, could I count on you to lay me down?“
And when Townes sings, "I ain’t much of a lover it’s true. I’m here then I’m gone, and I’m forever blue,” something inside me tugs.
Sometimes I feel so completely lost. I feel like no one could possibly understand. But then I listen to Townes, and I know he does. "Oh time, she’s a fast old train. She’s here then she’s gone, but she won’t come again.“
“Anxious?” Calhoun asks, a soft relief in her tone.
“For the most part,” Anna admits. “Giving you a locked
confession that applies to both my identities is terrifying at best. There’s a
lot of things I haven’t told you. Haven’t told anyone.”
“Trust me, I am well aware,” Calhoun says, good humoured
amusement in her tone that makes Anna smile. “Even so, why are you here instead
of your room?”
“That isn’t my room,” Anna replies in a kneejerk
reaction, but she doesn’t have to explain. She couldn’t have had her old room because it’s Arson’s room in the, now sealed, old elite living quarters. “Being
here is bringing back a lot of memories,” she whispers in answer. “None of them
“So you couldn’t sleep,” Calhoun half says, half asks.
“More like I woke up in a cold sweat and refused to try
again,” Anna corrects. “Sleep hasn’t been a sanctuary for a long time, for me.
It’s ironic in a way, considering how much Athena had struggled to wake me up
“As I recall, she didn’t always succeed,”
☾ - sleep headcanon ★ - sad headcanon ☠ - angry/violent headcanon ■ - Bedroom/house/living quarters headcanon ☯ - likes/dislikes headcanon ▼ - childhood headcanon ∇ -. old age/aging headcanon ☼ - appearance headcanon Silva. I am greedy. That is all. (Don't do all of these if you don't feel like it)
I always feel like talking about headcanons don’t worry! Thank you for all the headcanons :D
☾ - sleep headcanon
Silva is a microsleeper! He only really needs 1-3 hours of sleep a night to be fully functional, and can easily go two or three days before really feeling the need to sleep. If he takes quick naps throughout the day, he can go for a long time without having to actually go to sleep properly. That’s not to say he can’t sleep – if he wants to, he can quite easily sleep for the normal 7-8 hours a night, but he just doesn’t need to. He has little patience for doing things he deems redundant, so he doesn’t sleep more than he needs. He has plenty to do, after all.
★ - sad headcanon
When sad or depressed (which is more often than he’d like to admit), Silva is very bad for retreating out of sight and only allowing a few people anywhere near him. It’s not unusual for him to run things completely out of sight for chunks of time, using a few highly trusted henchmen to convey messages on his behalf, and communicating electronically when possible. Once he’s snapped out of it he’ll be everywhere again, and people on the island actually prefer this. With someone as energetic and eccentric as Silva, it’s weirder to have that huge gap where he should be.