Release Date: Mar 7, 2019
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Country, Folk, Americana, Contemporary Folk, Country-Rock
Ever the drifter, Townes Van Zandt came down from what would be the most productive phase of his career by ambling to Atlanta and crashing with a friend in early 1973. This visit came at the end of a six-year stretch in which Van Zandt released as many albums of his lonely and aching country-folk -- albums like Delta Momma Blues and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt that would grow into classics as the years passed. At the time, however, Van Zandt was far from a star, with meager record sales and little to show for his nonstop creative output.
Townes Van Zandt often seemed indifferent to his recording career--or anything resembling a career, really. He certainly gave the music business his best shot, traveling from his native Texas to Nashville to cut a series of albums for the tiny label Poppy between 1968 and 1972, frequently collaborating with Jack Clement, a producer who decided to ostentatiously augment the songwriter's eccentricities instead of accentuate them. It wasn't a winning formula commercially, and his lack of success during his only prolific period helped fate him to decades of wandering on the margins of country and Americana.
The Lowdown: The opening scene of 2004 documentary Be Here to Love Me begins with a recording of Townes Van Zandt reading what would become the lyrics to "At My Window" over the telephone. When asked by the voice on the other end of the line whether that's all he'd written, Van Zandt chuckles: "No, no. A bunch more, but I lost another page." It's an exchange most wouldn't bother committing to tape, and yet it somehow perfectly captures what's both beautiful and troubling about the life and career of Townes Van Zandt.