Townes Van Zandt
Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 - January 1, 1997) was a country music songwriter and performer.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, the son of an oil executive, he travelled in his youth around Texas and Colorado. He was the great great great grandchild of Isaac Van Zandt, a prominent leader of the Republic of Texas and early state of Texas.
Influential in the sub-genre referred to as Alternative country, his Texas-grounded impact stretched farther than country. One of his major influences was Texas Blues man Lightnin' Hopkins whose songs were a constant part of his repertoire.
Townes was master of the small scale, intimate gig where he would weave song and story into an unforgettable evening for those lucky enough to witness him live. He regulary performed with his great friend and contempory, [[[Guy Clark.]]] Generally shy and reserved, Van Zant's performances featured a dry humor — an integral part of his songwriting. Early in his career he wrote light-hearted and humorous songs, but by his first releases (1977) on Tomato Records Van Zandt harnessed his talent for dark and bittersweet love songs and ballads like "For the Sake of the Song" and "Tecumseh Valley".
For the most part he performed in a few but appreciative small Texas bars. Tomato Records released a 2-disc live album from the Old Quarter in Houston, Texas that captured him in such a performance, and includes his most popular and definitive songs like "Lungs", "For the Sake of the Song", "Tecumseh Valley", "To Live Is To Fly', and his most famous (thanks to numerous covers, most notably by Willie Nelson), "Pancho & Lefty".
He continued writing and performing at his own pace through the 1990s until his premature death in 1997. Townes will be remembered as a great songwriter who left a legacy of great songs and inspired musicians.
Quotes about Van Zandt
"Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." - Steve Earle.