Unknown Legends, Vol. 3: Townes Van Zandt
Inspired by @alexim and @nathanveshecco I hope you guys don't mind me jumping on the bandwagon, I enjoyed reading your lists so much, I wanted to add on.
- •I first discovered Townes Van Zandt by stumbling upon a documentary about his life and music, called "Be Here to Love Me."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. He had a small and devoted fanbase, but never had a successful album or single and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print.
- •"Dead Flowers"I heard a song that I recognized from my favorite movie! I knew it was a Rolling Stones song, but the version at the end of The Big Lebowski was my favorite. I had never looked into who actually performed the version of the song in the movie, but now I was interested in what else Townes had to offer.
- •"Pancho and Lefty"Townes had covered Dead Flowers from the Rolling Stones, but as the documentary explained, plenty of people covered songs that Van Zandt had written. 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.
- •"Waiting 'round to Die"He suffered from a series of drug addictions, alcoholism,and bipolar disorder. When young, insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory. Throughout his adult life, Van Zandt struggled with heroin addiction and alcoholism. At times he would become drunk on stage and forget the lyrics to his songs. At one point, his heroin habit was so intense that he offered the publishing rights to all of the songs on each of his first four albums for $20!
- •"To Live is to Fly"Van Zandt has been referred to as a cult musician and "a songwriter's songwriter."Musician Steve Earle, who met him in 1978 and considered Van Zandt a mentor, once called Van Zandt "the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."
- •"If I needed you"Van Zandt died on New Years Day 1997 from health problems stemming from years of substance abuse. At various points, his friends saw him shoot up not just heroin, but also cocaine, vodka, as well as a mixture of rum and Coke. The 2000s saw a resurgence of interest in Van Zandt. During the decade, two books, a documentary film "Be Here to Love Me," and a number of magazine articles about the singer were created. In 2012, Van Zandt was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame.
- •"Lungs"He has been cited as a source of inspiration by such notable artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Guthrie Thomas, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Chelsea Wolfe, Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Cowboy Junkies, Vetiver, Guy Clark, Devandra Banhart, Norah Jones, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, The Be Good Tanyas and Jolie Holland, Josh Ritter, Gillian Welch, Garth Brooks, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon!
- •"Rake"If I was trying to get somebody interested in TVZ's music I would suggest they start with the documentary Be Here to Love Me, then listen to the album A Gentle Evening with Townes Van Zandt. However, if you just want to dip your toe into the finger picking folk music pool, you can start with this song: http://youtu.be/UPxz_4wIa4g