Happy Birthday Mr. Van Zandt

Posted by Payton | Posted in videos | Posted on 03-07-2010

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Today, March 7th, is the birth date of the late, great Townes Van Zandt. He would be 66 years old and had his lifestyle not gotten the best of him, he would no doubt still be creating beautifully haunting music. I’ve been meaning to get to some Townes posts here at This Mornin’, but keep putting it off. Maybe I’ll re-read John Kruth’s fervent tribute To Live’s To Fly. It was great the first time through, but I was in it for the story. Next time, I’ll log away all the recording session details and get some good post material from it.

Townes’ recorded music, more often than not, became the victim of terrible studio treatment, yet still the power of his songs broke through the odd backing vocals and poor accompanying music. Anyone alive today that fancies their self a songwriter owes much to Townes Van Zandt. And those that don’t aren’t worth listening to. Period. Rest in peace, sir.

Townes Van Zandt - Waitin' Around To Die (Heartworn Highway Documentary)
This video shows the emotional power in Townes’ music like no other. A simple song brings a weathered old man to tears.

Townes Tribute Album Coming from the Right Place

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release | Posted on 03-08-2009

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Another little album release update, here.

Pitchfork has reported in detail that Steve Earle, longtime friend and early protege to Townes Van Zandt, will release a tribute album to the music legend. The album, titled simply Townes, features a slew of impressive cameos including Rage’s Tom Morello, Steve’s wife Allison Moorer, some un-named ‘bluegrass legends,’ and most excitingly, his son Justin in a duet of ‘Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold.’

Head over to the Pitchfork story to stream ‘Lungs from the album. The song was the only track produced by John King, who turned the dials for Steve’s most recent Washington Square Serenade. The track definitely has the same gritty, electric ambiance that WSS evoked and surprisingly adds a new layer to Townes’ song. But with a songwriter like Townes, it’s tough to screw one up. If there’s anyone in this world to do the late, great Townes Van Zandt justice, it’s Steve Earle.

The tribute artist once famous for saying “Townes Van Zandt is the greatest songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that,” now has this to say:

“This may be one of the best records I’ve ever made.”

Check out the New West album page to stream track 1 as well.

01 Pancho and Lefty
02 White Freightliner Blues
03 Colorado Girl
04 Where I Lead Me
05 Lungs

06 No Place to Fall
07 Loretta
08 Brand New Companion
09 Rake
10 Delta Momma Blues
11 Marie
12 Don’t Take It Too Bad
13 Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
14 (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria

15 To Live Is to Fly

Pick up the album on May 12th (New West) on both CD and Vinyl.


For now, I’ll give you one of my favorite Townes tracks as well as an extra song from Steve. He wrote the song in ‘97 as his way of dealing with the loss of the legend and friend.

Townes Van Zandt – Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel
Steve Earle – Ft. Worth Blues

New Old Stuff in ‘09….

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-29-2008

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The other day i got a request for a re-post of a song that showed up on my Ode to the Vinyl Record. Instead of just re-linking the Ryan Adams’ If I Am A Stranger vinyl rip from an old 7-inch, i thought i’d make a post with some interesting news. Thanks to Christmas, i now have a new toy to help supply my faithful readers with some extra musical goodness in 2009:

Not only is that a badass new record player with great sound, fast playback, and an iPod dock, but it has a USB cable that allows for easy ripping of that Vinyl sound. So many of those Vinyl-only tracks i possess will be making their way to the digital world and onto the pages of This Mornin’ I Am Born Again. This comes just in time for the part of my Ryan Adams Spotlight fast approaching that will now include many Side D’s full of great bonus tracks.

Ryan Adams – If I Am A Stranger (Vinyl Rip)

Also, another re-post request came in for my Surviving Ike Mixtape. Get it while you can.


Townes Van Zandt – Colorado Bound

In other news, i’ll be heading North bright and early tomorrow morning for a New Year’s Ski Trip. Steamboat, CO is the final destination, and in terms of driving, that’s just about as far as i’m willing to go. The laptop will be making the trip, so i’ll try to get a post or two up.

"i got poison, i just might bite you…"

Posted by Payton | Posted in one liner | Posted on 10-14-2008

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Townes Van Zandt – Snake Song
buy Flyin’ Shoes (1978)

It’s sad how little i’ve talked about Townes here.
i’ll try to change that in the near future.

Music To Read By……

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release, books | Posted on 06-30-2008

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How cool is it that? – As i’m reading the first Townes Van Zandt biography - one of his most sought-after and impassioned albums gets a re-issue. Live At The Old Quarter is – you guessed it – a live recording of Townes at his best (before his destructive ways started to effect his live shows). It came out on June 17th, but i had to wait to get it until today when my eMusic downloads refreshed – and promptly used ‘em all up.

The Old Quarter was a dive bar in Houston, TX where “blue jeans and blue collars came together for the good music and cold beer.” (Earl Willis – producer and engineer of the album) It saw the likes of Lightnin‘ Hopkins, Jerry Jeff Walker, and – of course – Townes come through in the early parts of their careers. One hot night in 1973, Townes gave the packed house a 27-song set filled with some of his most classic songs.

John Kruth, the book’s author, mentions how Townes’ studio recordings were often mauled by bad production as well as sub-par studio players. The problem, according to John (as well as accounts from Kevin Eggars and Guy Clark, among others), was that his labels were unsure of how to market Townes’ albums – so they mucked ‘em up in order to fit them better into a genre. It’s a square block in a round hole trying to genre-fy Townes. He was, after all, a live performer who liked life on the road and always managed to wreck some part of his life as soon as one place got too permanent.

That’s why The Green Album – as it’s often called – remains one the true-est momentos of The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Not only is his guitar work sharp as ever, but Townes was talkative and charming on this night. [By the way - if you've only heard a few TVZ songs here and there, you may be under the impression that, albeit an amazing poet, he was a lazy guitar player. Not the case - like i said, his hard-livin' began to take a toll on him later in his life, but in the first decade of Townes' career, he was admired as much for his intricate finger-picking (he carried a set of metal finger picks around in a purple-velvet Crown Royal bag) as he was his songwriting.]

Here’s just one of the jokes Townes tells during song breaks:

“There was this drunk walkin‘ down the street. He walks up
to this cop and he says
‘Man, somebody stole my car.’

The cop says ‘Well, where was it?’

And he says ‘It was right on the end of this key.’

The cop says ‘Why don’t you go down to the precinct and file a report?’

Guy says ‘Okay’ and he starts to walk off.

The cop says, ‘Before you go downtown, you better zip up your fly…..’

The drunk says ‘Aw, man. They got my girl, too.’”

If you’re already a Townes Van Zandt fan – you MUST have this record….
If you’re new to Townes – this is as good a place as ever to start……

[eMusic] Free 14-day trial with 35 mp3 downloads – FREE!
[Amazon] $23.98 hard copy/$11.49 mp3

mp3: Townes Van Zandt – Two Girls
mp3: Townes Van Zandt – Lungs

i’ll probably be inspired to write another TVZ post when i finish up the book.

Black Crow Blues……

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, blues | Posted on 06-11-2008

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One of the other blogs i read has features called Compare & Contrast as well as one called Homonym – both highlight songs that have the same name, but sound different. i’m not really clever enough to come up with a title that is different (or better) than those, so here are a couple songs for you to consider…………..

i find it interesting that so many bands names, band logos, song titles, etc. are inspired by the fabled CROW. Going back even before Poe and his Raven, the black bird has long symbolized death (or is at least an omen for it) in mythology and folklore. So what better way to pay homage to the ghastly bird than for two of the greatest folksters to sing the blues for him.

mp3: Bob Dylan – Black Crow Blues
buy Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

One of those beautiful oddities wherein despite the up-tempo nature of the tune, the feeling of the blues still comes through……

“black crows in the meadow,
across a broad highway.

though it’s funny, honey,
i just don’t feel much like a scarecrow today.”

mp3: Townes Van Zandt – Black Crow Blues
buy In The Beginning (2003)

i don’t know if anyone can evoke sadness like TVZ. Not only does Townes himself sound lonely, the reverb behind him makes him sound like he truly is alone in some dark chamber. This is the blues if i’ve ever heard ‘em…..

“well the black crows are screamin’
the yellow sun’s warm
and the grass tumbles tall down the hill.
but there’s a cold wind a buildin’
it’s bringin’ a storm,
when the call of the black crow goes still”

Sunshine Blues….

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, blues | Posted on 02-02-2008

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Ever realized that sometimes the blues can make you feel, well….. not blue? There’s some kinda uplifiting quality that comes through when you hear a loud, vibrant guitar set to a a groovy melody – and maybe a harp thrown in, too. Sure, there are plenty of bluesy songs that are down right heartwrenching, but if the artists set out to write a blues tune cuz they’re feeling down, then it just seems natural that a hopeful song might emerge. So on this cool, sunny day, i’m in the mood for some groovy blues……

Old School Blues:
mp3: Bob Dylan – Meet Me In The Morning ~ from Blood On The Tracks (1975)
mp3: Nick Drake – Black Mountain Blues ~ from Family Tree (2007)
mp3: Townes Van Zandt – Black Widow Blues ~ from In The Beginning (1966)
mp3: Bob Dylan – Standin’ On The Highway ~ bootleg from WBAI Radio Interview, NYC (1962)

Bluegrassy Blues:
mp3: Chris Thile – If The Sea Was Whiskey ~ from How To Grow A Woman From The Ground (2006)
mp3: Otis Taylor – Shakie’s Gone ~ from Truth Is Not Fiction (2003)
mp3: Old Crow Medicine Show – Can’t Get Right Blues ~ from OCMS LIVE (2003)

Folky Blues:
mp3: The Avett Brothers – Backwards With Time ~ from The Gleam [EP] (2006)
mp3: Iron & Wine – The Devil Never Sleeps ~ from The Shepherd’s Dog (2007)
*by the way, i definately missed the ball by not including
this album in my Best of 2007 post*
mp3: Patty Griffin – Stay On The Ride ~ from Children Running Through (2007)
mp3: Steve Earle – Tennessee Blues ~ from Washington Square Serenade (2007)

Rockin’ Blues:
mp3: The Black Keys – Just a Little Heat ~ from Magic Potion (2006)
mp3: The Black Keys – Hold Me In Your Arms ~ from Thickfreakness (2003)
mp3: Cross Canadian Ragweed – Suicide Blues ~ from Purple (2002)
mp3: Ryan Adams – Tina Toledo’s Street Walkin’ Blues ~ from Gold (2001)