Townes Van Zandt - For The Sake Of The Song (1968)

Townes Van Zandt was an American singer-songwriter.

Van Zandt was born in Texas in 1944 to a wealthy oil family (Van Zandt County in east Texas had been named after his family in 1848). His father was a corporate lawyer, and the family had to move several times during Van Zandt's childhood due to his career. They went from Fort Worth to Montana, then Colorado, and then to Houston, Texas. In his youth he was found to have a genius IQ, and his family sent him to university, hoping for him to become a lawyer or senator. However they soon became worried about his binge drinking and depression. Diagnosed with manic depression, he received three months of insulin shock therapy, which erased much of his long-term memory.
He had taken up the guitar back in the 50s, and in 1965 he began playing regular shows in Houston. Right before his death in 1966, his father had encouraged him to stop playing cover songs and write his own material. In 1967 he quit school for good to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. In 1968 he met fellow songwriter Mickey Newbury, who encouraged him to move to Nashville and introduced him to Jack Clement, who became his longterm producer.
He was always much more interested in songwriting than the recording process, so when his debut album was recorded in 1968 Clement took creative license to craft elaborate arrangements featuring harpsichord, flutes, backing singers and more. The result was a very curious thing, Van Zandt's dry and often sombre country-folk songs set to lush and vibrant musical backing. Though Clement has since expressed regret at these choices, and the album is not really considered to represent Van Zandt's sound, it's still a fine record.
It was fated for no commercial success, which sadly foreshadowed the rest of his recording career. However he was becoming recognised as a truly great songwriter, and he began to earn himself a cult underground following (with many more well-known singer-songwriters among his fans).

|> Our Mother The Mountain (1969)

More from Townes Van Zandt



Martin Rowell said...
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Martin Rowell said...

Thursday, March 7, is the birthday of Townes Van Zandt. He toured the Land of Enchantment frequently. (We regularly play one of the clubs he performed at.)

Christina imagined what one of those trips through New Mexico would have been like for him, and wrote "Townes"...A haunting song about the wanderings of a singer/songwriter on the road.

In honor of the occasion, enjoy a FREE download in a broadcast quality wav format. And please share this with your friends.