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Live At McCabe's

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Editors’ Notes

Townes Van Zandt found that his muse didn't come around as much in his later days, but it never stopped him from performing the songs that did come forth. His poor health in his later years took a serious toll, but the years also gave him the experience to imbue these songs with the gravitas their sentiments required. This live performance at McCabe's Music Shop in Santa Monica, Calif., on Feb. 10, 1995—less than two years before he died—is a perfect example of what he did best. The songs are brutal tales with little to smile about, but Townes' between-song banter can be quite hilarious and is included extensively here without discernible edits. (There's a reason some tracks time out at more than seven minutes!) Together, this presents a complete portrait of the man. There's little in country, folk, or blues music as amazing as a quiet room with just Townes and his guitar. Kelly Joe Phelps joins him onstage on dobro—against Van Zandt's advice—and the two play together for "Banks of the Ohio" and "Wabash Cannonball."

Customer Reviews

The real Townes.

A great live recording. Elsewhere I've seen criticism because Townes's playing skills have declined at this point, and his singing is a bit edgy. For me, this live album captures the soul of the man. There are many adjectives that come to mind to describe TVZ, and pretty ain't one of 'em.
My only issue with this recording is with Apple. Elsewhere, the recording is available with two excellent bonus tracks: A great version of To Live's to Fly, and I'll be Here In the Morning, a duet sung with Barb Donovan.
Despite this, I still give the rest of the material all the stars, as Townes never deserves less.
R.I.P., Townes. You are sorely missed.


Born: March 7, 1944 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Country

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