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Live and Obscure

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iTunes Review

Anyone who saw him on a good night can tell you: Townes Van Zandt was a transcendent live performer. His records were good, but to hear the man in the flesh was to hear the songs breathe along with his being. This concert—recorded on April 19, 1985, to a standing-room-only crowd at 12th and Porter in Nashville—is one of several examples of what a live album should be. (Van Zandt's Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas is the first must-have.) Backed only by Donny Silverman on flute and saxophone and Mickey White on second guitar, Van Zandt sails through the finer points of his catalog with a joy that never appears in his brutal songs of existential crisis. "Nothin'" and "Waitin' Round to Die" are two of his bleakest tunes, but the beauty inherent in his truth (and in Silverman's accompaniment) makes these among the best renditions available. Other classics from his catalog—"Rex's Blues," "Tecumseh Valley," and "Pancho and Lefty," made famous by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Emmylou Harris—are also performed with conviction.

Customer Reviews

This it the real stuff

I saw Townes play many times during his too-short life, but the sound from this period when his voice had matured, his arrangements were stipped-down and intimate, and his backing player excellent really defined the soul of the man. If you know him and don't have this or if you've heard of him and don't know where to start, here's the place.


Born: March 7, 1944 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Townes Van Zandt's music doesn't jump up and down, wear fancy clothes, or beat around the bush. Whether he was singing a quiet, introspective country-folk song or a driving, hungry blues, Van Zandt's lyrics and melodies were filled with the kind of haunting truth and beauty that you knew instinctively. His music came straight from his soul by way of a kind heart, an honest mind, and a keen ear for the gentle blend of words and melody. He could bring you down to a place so sad that you felt like you...
Full Bio