Posts Tagged ‘Townes Van Zandt’


Sorrow and solitude
These are the precious things
And the only words
That are worth rememberin’

Townes Van Zandt, Nothin’


A kind of gray and glum Sunday morning, wet and cool. It has the feel of the season turning, of the green of the leaves to be soon fleeing. The deer outside my window are taking on their new dark winter coats, the beautiful rich reddish coats of summer gone leaving them to look like they have rolled in coal dust, grimy and gray.

But they carry it well.

Myself, I feel as gray and glum and grimy as the scene and I fear I don’t carry it as well as my dear deer.

But that’s okay.

These gray days aren’t pleasant but there is something of value in them. They make you feel something and that is an important thing. It sometimes feels like we live without feeling the moment. And even if the moment isn’t a glorious moment of elation, to feel anything– even sorrow and solitude– at any given time may be the the only gift we have in the precious time we spend in this world.

Like Townes says in the lyrics at the top. Or maybe Warren Zevon said it correctly in Ain’t That Pretty At All:

Going to hurl myself against the wall
‘Cause I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all 

On that note, let’s get to this Sunday morning music which is, of course, the song Nothin’ from the late great singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste but on songs like this, its flat simplicity and plaintive tone are absolute perfection. One of my favorites from many that he wrote. I have also included a bit of a different version from the Grammy winning collaboration of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Plant’s falsetto set against the heavy crunch of Krauss’ electrified fiddle make it a powerful version.

Have a good Sunday.

PS: The painting at the top Exiles: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a reminder that I will be giving an Art Talk this coming Thursday, September 12 beginning at 6 PM, at the Patterson Library Octagon Library in support of my Icons & Exiles exhibit that hangs there until September 20.

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Can’t get my mind organized this morning, can’t seem to want to focus on any one thing. Had a lot of ideas for the blog but just lacked the desire to follow through so I am just going to play a song this morning accompanied by a tiny painting from back around 1995 called Harlequin. I always smile when I come across this piece.

The song is a favorite of mine, Dead Flowers, from the Rolling Stones and their 1971 album, Sticky Fingers. But the version below is from the late great Townes Van Zandt. I can’t say that it’s better or worse than the Stones version but it’s one that I like very much.

So give a listen and I’ll try to get my act together this morning…


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Have a lot on my plate this morning, a lot of things needing to be done. But I came across this video by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, the late Townes Van Zandt, and thought I would share it. It’s called Big Country Blues and the video features the photos of primarily working class Americans from the great Richard Avedon.

It’s a compelling video, given this time in this country. I watched it twice this morning just to fully take in the imagery and Townes’ music never lets me down. I wish he were around just to hear his take on these times. He could write some sad songs, after all.

Give it a look and a listen.


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GC Myers-Serenata Blue This is another of the pieces that are in the upcoming Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning.  This little guy is titled Serenata Blue and is a just a bit larger that 2″ by 4″ on paper.  It’s a continuation of the recent snow paintings as well as another of my solitary guitarist pieces, of which I do a handful each year.

There’s something very appealing to me in the solitary guitarist standing amidst open space as he cradles his guitar.  It usually brings me a wistful, somewhat sad feeling.  Not in a bad way sad.  Just a slight existential melancholy.  You know, the good kind.

I thought that there should be some appropriate musical accompaniment to this painting so I came up with a sad song.  And I mean sad.  This Nancy Griffith’s version of Tecumseh Valley.  It’s an achingly  beautiful and sad  lament that tells the story of a poor mountain girl.  To make this version even sadder, this is from a tribute show from the friends of the song’s writer, the great Townes Van Vandt, right after he passed away in 1997.  But it is a haunting and lovely song so don’t be afraid to listen.

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AswirlIt’s Monday morning, back in the studio.  After a show, there’s always a period of settling back into my routine which is something that is really important for me as I’m a real creature of habit.  It takes a couple of days to digest the events of the past few days so these first days are kind of sluggish, just tying up loose ends to little projects and straightening up the studio.  Start focusing on the next goal which is my annual show at the West End Gallery in Corning at the end of July.  

There’s also always a slight melancholy, something I may have mentioned before.  I’ve heard about this from other artists as well.  I think there’s always a letdown after you finish a project, such as a show, that you’ve been so focused on for a period of time.  During the preparation the goal drives you on but suddenly the day arrives and the goal is no longer there.  So you float a bit, tread a little water, until you determine what the next goal will be.  Luckily, I have my next show so I can swing into that with only a slight case of funk.

So today is spent with errands and such but tomorrow I’m back in full swing.  But until then I will enjoy my quiet time and that small bit of melancholy.  Here’s a song in that spirit from Steve Earle (in his heavy phase) with a song written to his friend, Townes Van Zandt,  on his passing.  Enjoy Fort Worth Blues

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OmegaI was listening to some music yesterday and, coming across some stuff from the late  Townes Van Zandt  that I hadn’t heard in a bit was reminded of a documentary that my nephew, Jeremy, passed on to me a few years back.  It’s called Heartworn Highways and is from around 1975, chronicling some of the singer-songwriters who came to be known as alt-country.  

It’s pretty gritty.  These guys are shown completely unvarnished and it is the antidote to the packaged, slickly produced  music that pervades the airwaves today.  There is the first recorded version of Mercenary Song from a very young and greasy looking Steve Earle and good versions of  L.A. Freeway  and Desperados Waiting For a Train from Guy Clark but the parts that stand out for me are those with Townes Van Zandt.

This is Waitin’ Around to Die and has an interesting intro that really sets up the tune well.  It’s a pretty powerful song.  Enjoy…

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Seeking Imperfection 2001

Well, it’s Thanksgiving eve and I doubt I will be able to post tomorrow so I thought I’d put up a couple of things.  This is a piece from 2001 called Seeking Imperfection which was the title piece for my show that year at the Principle Gallery.  The solitary, windblown figure is only used a few times a year in my work and remains a favorite theme for me.  He is the seeker, the existential traveler, and he represents a lot of things to me.

I choose this piece to show because it kind of brings to mind the feelings raised when I think of Thanksgiving, beyond the pleasant ones of family and feast.  There is empathy for those whose lives are a struggle and there is remorse for not having done more to help others in need.  There’s regret for feeling sorry for myself at any point when it’s obvious that there are so many who suffer much more than I ever have.  But there is the hope that we can do more in the future and that some, maybe many, will be raised up from their suffering.

Below is a video of Steve Earle’s version of Tecumseh Valley, written by the late Townes Van Zandt.  It’s a sad, heart-breaking song but maybe it will serve as a reminder that on this day of thanks we need to truly appreciate the lives and blessings we have and should not forget or forsake those who have not been so fortunate.  With that in mind, give a listen then don’t forget to extend a hand.  Donate cash, food, clothes, or your time.  Just don’t turn a blind eye…

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