Review Summary: Was singing about Colorado years before John Denver tried to make it cool.
What is harder to find than a Sputnik user with good taste?
An enjoyable country record.
What Townes accomplished here with mainly just his guitar and years of accrued discernment serves as a caste iron monument hanging an ominous shadow over other singer/songwriters. Spurning his family’s affluence Van Zandt rose and fell on his own merit and payed the price for many poor decisions. Finally succumbing to alcoholism, he died at the age of 52 leaving behind a distinctive collection of songs in his wake.
Possessing the less animated voice of his idol Hank Williams, Townes preferred to play his music at a lower key to closely fit his own reflection of self. Questions of psyche are up for debate on Waiting Around To Die. Not bad for the first song he ever wrote. While allusions of his own unique perceptions of the world are found on Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel which also brings a little folk rock into the mix.
Van Zandt’s guitar playing was never very complex but he was adept at layering catchy lines over finger picked melodies while rarely using full chords. And though his world weary voice can carry a song its not exactly an award winner. It is in cadence and subject matter where Townes makes his impact. On (Quicksilver Daydreams of) Maria aided by faint drumming and a stirring violin the track ends with,
So the serpent slide softly away with these moments of laughter
and the the old washy woman has finish her cleanin' and gone
but the bamboo hang heavy in the bondage of quicksilver daydreams
and a lonely child longingly looks for a place to belong
To me Van Zandt compares to names like Cash and Nelson. Not so much stylistically but in the uncommon ability to transcend genre. There are artists who listeners can appreciate regardless of their normal musical preferences and Townes is just a lesser known version of this. His ability to make the audience feel what he feels is a talent I don’t come across very often.