Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt

Absolutely Nothing


Haunting and haunted. Anguish and angry. Mere words until they are applied to the art of Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Van Zandt crafted a lifetime of work from the perspective of a man always looking up from the bottom. He was the voice of the resigned, the neglected, the ignored. The characters in his songs live a life hovering over the abyss, generally only a drink, or a bad woman away from ruin. “Marie,” a tale of a homeless man and his pregnant wife, is one of the most harrowing songs you’ll ever hear. Van Zandt’s handling of the doomed couple shows a level of understanding with the plight of those who seemingly can never catch a break, one almost wonders how close Townes came to being destitute himself. This collection of live recordings, taken mainly from a 1994 show in Ireland, contains much of his best known material: “Two Girls,” “Lungs” and an impassioned “Waiting Around to Die.” The music of Townes Van Zandt was raw and open, and its unadorned simplicity can be both compelling and unsettling. He didn’t mince words, or pull punches. Even on his “lighter” material, such as “Thunderbird Blues” found here, he’s still singing about a life knocked ajar by cheap wine. Van Zandt has been rightly heralded as a poet’s poet, and a performer without equal. Even dead, no one can touch him.

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