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Rear View Mirror

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iTunes Review

Haunting, indispensable, unsurpassable: Rear View Mirror showcases the work of one of America's greatest songwriters, the way he was meant to be heard. Recorded in the late-‘70s, when Townes was still healthy and in top form as a performer, this live set features some of his most timeless compositions ("Pancho & Lefty," "For the Sake of the Song," "Tecumseh Valley") backed by little other than an extra guitar and some melancholy fiddle. The spare accompaniment lets the songs' bleak beauty shine through and in the process helps separate Townes's musical legacy from the questionable romance of his self-destruction. His voice is clear, the picking delicate and nimble, and the songwriting itself has the haunting, unparseable beauty of a Childe ballad or ancient lament. In the words of "No Place to Fall," "Time, she's a fast old train. She's here, then she's gone, and she won't come again." For those of us who weren't lucky enough to see Townes live, Rear View Mirror is the next best thing; for anyone who's new to his work, these tracks are the best place to start listening.

Customer Reviews

Rear View Mirror

If you like stripped down live country/folk music with a mellow sound, buy this album. Townes Van Zandt's lyrics are amazing.

An excellent introduction to TVZ

If you are just beginning to explore the amazing songwriting of Townes Van Zandt, "Rear View Mirror" is a great place to start. Many of his classics are here, in stripped-down arrangements that highlight the beauty and depth of the lyrics. TVZ's delivery is mature, his voice deeper than it was on his early recordings, but not as ragged and tired as it would become towards the end. These songs are works of art that reward attentive and repeated listening.

Hauntingly beutiful

I read a quote by Townes saying that is songs were not sad, but hopeless. This is my first Townes Van Zandt album and I am wowed by his simple and dark story telling. The stripped down simplicity of this recording only adds to the emotional punch that lies within the lyrics. Townes truly was one of America's greatest song writers and influenced generations of Americana artists.


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...
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