Read A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt by Robert Earl Hardy Free Online
Book Title: A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt|
The author of the book: Robert Earl Hardy
Edition: University of North Texas Press
Date of issue: March 6th 2008
ISBN 13: 9781574412475
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 336 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.4
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Townes Van Zandt is one of the best songwriters of all time. Snowin' On Raton and White Freightliner Blues are two of my favorite songs ever. I always knew Townes was an arsehole but not until I read this book did I know how complete a jerk and jackass he was. Here was a man who let heroin, whisky and vodka destroy his career, three marriages and his entire personal life. That said, the chapter on his treatment (shock therapy) at a Galveston psychiatric center while he was in college, made me cry and made me much more sympathetic to his situation and his life. It is an extremely depressing book but only because Townes' life was so depressing. Whether it was his fault for submitting to drugs and alcohol or the fault of people who took advantage of him (most notably his third wife Jeanene or his manager Howard Eggers) or, perhaps most likely, the fault of his bipolar syndrome, it it quite depressing.
Looking on the sunny side of life, here are at least 3 facts to provide hope for mankind:
1) Townes came from an extremely important and wealthy family of original settlers of Texas, politicians, lawyers and oil executives. His father was a lawyer and oilman. I always figured some of the demons in Townes' life was due to his father disowning or at least disapproving of his son becoming a counter culture folk musician. Actually his father was extremely kind, encouraging and supportive of him. As was his mother.
2) Townes' first wife Fran was a saint. She devoted several years of her life to trying to help Townes and only left him after he continued using heroin after the birth of their son.
3) Despite it all, Townes always had some sense of character and class. When one of his friends was badmouthing his third wife (who at least by the account of this book, was a pure demon) he told his friend "Never criticize Jeanene. She is the mother of my children."
Two interesting tidbits I learned from this book:
1) The lines in White Freightliner Blues--"Well, it's bad news from Houston/Half of my friends are dyin'/Well, it's bad news from Houston/Half of my friends are dyin'" were unfortunately true. Townes wrote the song after moving to Nashville from Houston and his old friends really were dying from drug abuse.
2) While I knew Doc Watson and Emmylou Harris had each recorded a version of Townes' "If I Needed You" I had not known they each omitted the line "Loop and Lil agree/She's a sight to see." Loop and Lil were two parakeets Townes regularly traveled with. The referencing to his two parakeets approving the woman he is with is key to a very charming aspect of Townes' nature and are easily the best lines of the excellent song.
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