Taking a Look at Townes Van Zandt

I remember a time where I would stop in random record shops in search for gems on vinyl. For me, there's something about stopping in a local record store and shopping to collect more muses for my musical arsenal.  It's an experience that touches the core of my soul, something that can't be achieved by shopping online.  Since I live in the desolate town of Jackson, Wyoming with no record shops, anytime I travel, I always find myself researching the city for the best local stores to purchase vinyl.  A great find is always Townes Van Zandt. 

Townes Van Zandt spent most of his musical career playing local dive bars, and during July 1973 he played a string of shows over five sweltering nights Live at the Old Quarter in Houston, Texas where he recorded a live album of the same name.  On these night he played in an intimate setting to a few 100 folks in the audience.  It was so packed that waitresses could not take drink orders in the crowd.  The folks would pass money hand over fist in hopes that a cold beer would find it's way to them while watching the show. Townes played numbers such as the well known "Poncho & Lefty" and "If I Needed You" to a crowd that weren't that familiar with the tunes.  Most actually recognize "Poncho & Lefty" as it was later covered by well known acts such as Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, & Merle Haggard. 

Along with the songs I mentioned earlier, some of my personal favorites on this live album include "Lungs", "To Live Is To Fly", "Cocaine Blues", "Waiting 'round To Die", "Tecumseh Valley", and a cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love".  Townes Van Zant's songs feel like poetry in its purest form. Meant to be enjoyed and listened to, his songs grow with you every time you give a listen.  Townes spent most of his time in the 70s living in a simple shack with no electricity or a phone.  He suffered from drug addiction, alcoholism, and bipolar disorder.

When I was first introduced to Townes Van Zandt by a dear friend of mine, I remember asking him what I should be on the lookout for when I was spending countless hours at various record stores looking for finds.  He always responded, "anything Townes!"  Since then I've collected some of his most prolific work spanning from 1968 to 1973.  These records include For the Sake of the Song, Our Mother the Mountain, Townes Van Zandt, Delta Momma Blues, Low and In Between, and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt.  As he is no longer with us, one can only wish that they could time travel back to where they could pay $10 to see this master at work.

Live At The Old Quarter, Houston Texas Track Listing: 

Side One

  1. Announcement
  2. Pancho & Lefty
  3. Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold
  4. Don't You Take It Too Bad
  5. Two Girls
  6. Fraternity Blues
  7. If I Needed You

Side Two

  1. Brand New Companion
  2. White Freight Liner Blues
  3. To Live Is To Fly
  4. She Came And She Touched Me
  5. Talking Thunderbird Blues
  6. Rex's Blues
  7. Nine Pound Hammer

Side Three: 

  1. For The Sake Of The Song
  2. Chauffeur's Blues
  3. No Place To Fall
  4. Loretta
  5. Kathleen
  6. Why She's Acting This Way

Side Four

  1. Cocaine Blues
  2. Who Do You Love?
  3. Tower Song
  4. Waiting 'Round To Die
  5. Tecumseh Valley
  6. Lungs
  7. Only Him Or Me