Friday, May 31, 2013

Townes Van Zandt

It’s hard to know where to start with Townes Van Zandt. His haunting ballads have been recorded by so many artists. I suppose “Pancho and Lefty” is the most well-known of his works, but this early recording of Mr. Van Zandt performing “Waiting Round to Die” in the movie “Heartworn Highways” is probably my favorite. It reeks of desperation and sorrow.

Performers such as Mr. Van Zandt are seldom fully appreciated until after their death. That is the case with Mr. Van Zandt. He wrote some of the best songs; ones which other artists made into hits; but somehow never had a hit record himself. Sometimes it just works out like that. 

He moved to New York in the 1990’s, where his music influenced artists such as Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Gillian Welch, Norah Jones, Steve Earle and even Keith Richards. He passed away there on January 1, 1997 due to complications from years of substance abuse. In some ways, you might say, he was just waiting round to die.

“Waiting Round to Die”
Sometimes I don't know where
This dirty road is taking me
 Sometimes I can't even see the reason why
 I guess I keep a-gamblin'
 Lots of booze and lots of ramblin'
 It's easier than just waitin' around to die

One time, friends, I had a ma
I even had a pa
He beat her with a belt once 'cause she cried
She told him to take care of me
Headed down to Tennessee
It's easier than just waitin' around to die

I came of age and I found a girl
In a Tuscaloosa bar
She cleaned me out and hit in on the sly
I tried to kill the pain, bought some wine
And hopped a train
Seemed easier than just waitin' around to die

A friend said he knew
Where some easy money was
We robbed a man, and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me
And drug me back to Muskogee
It's two long years I've been waitin' around to die

Now I'm out of prison
I got me a friend at last
He don't drink or steal or cheat or lie
His name's Codeine
He's the nicest thing I've seen
Together we're gonna wait around and die

Together we're gonna wait around and die

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