15 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Townes Van Zandt wrote at least two dozen classic country-folk songs that transcend genre and speak to the strongest emotions in all of us. But his songwriting muse was erratic; there were years when his pen was silent. He did, however, have a living interest in the songs of others, and he peppered his shows with covers of songs that struck him as emotionally true. His acoustic version of The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" sounds as if it'd been written exclusively for him. Throughout the album other musicians come and go, adding a spare harmony here and a fiddle there, but the centerpieces are always Van Zandt's wracked voice and his nimble fingerpicked guitar. Bruce Springsteen's "Racing in the Streets" has a narrative worthy of being compressed into three minutes. Van Zandt's hero bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins gets three tunes covered with "Hello Central," "My Starter Won't Start," and "Short-Haired Woman Blues." He's even better on the old country number "Fraulein," where a song from his childhood is treated to his lonesome cry.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Townes Van Zandt wrote at least two dozen classic country-folk songs that transcend genre and speak to the strongest emotions in all of us. But his songwriting muse was erratic; there were years when his pen was silent. He did, however, have a living interest in the songs of others, and he peppered his shows with covers of songs that struck him as emotionally true. His acoustic version of The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers" sounds as if it'd been written exclusively for him. Throughout the album other musicians come and go, adding a spare harmony here and a fiddle there, but the centerpieces are always Van Zandt's wracked voice and his nimble fingerpicked guitar. Bruce Springsteen's "Racing in the Streets" has a narrative worthy of being compressed into three minutes. Van Zandt's hero bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins gets three tunes covered with "Hello Central," "My Starter Won't Start," and "Short-Haired Woman Blues." He's even better on the old country number "Fraulein," where a song from his childhood is treated to his lonesome cry.

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