An understatement would be to say that Townes Van Zandt was troubled. Another would be to say that he wrote some of the greatest—and darkest—songs of his era.
Steve Earle has undoubtedly seen a dying Van Zandt reflected in his own mirror: while Earle claims to have kicked the drugs and avoided a painful, early demise, Van Zandt never managed to escape the self-destruction that defined his persona and made his music so sadly beautiful.
In honor of his friend, Earle named his son Justin Townes (if ever there were a namesake to not live up to), and now he’s recorded an album of Van Zandt covers, aptly titled Townes. Because these songs were written by Van Zandt, it’s possible that this might be Earle’s best release since Transcendental Blues—if not ever—but that’s beside the point (and I haven’t heard the CD).
In the spirit of covers, here’s a video of Van Zandt playing the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” (also known as the song that closes “The Big Lebowski”):
Steve Earle will release Townes May 12th on New West Records.
01 Pancho and Lefty
02 White Freightliner Blues
03 Colorado Girl
04 Where I Lead Me
06 No Place to Fall
08 Brand New Companion
10 Delta Momma Blues
12 Don’t Take It Too Bad
13 Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
14 (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria
15 To Live Is to Fly