Townes Van Zandt “High, Low and In Between”

At some point a decade and a computer or two ago I downloaded a metric ton of Towns Van Zandt records on my computer, and then for like a decade of playing random iTunes it seemed like the “shuffle” had some kind of TVZ preference—almost like it was a bug (these things MUST get built in by bored computer dudes, right?) So I’d get like about 25 percent TVZ, it seemed (I didn’t actually keep track and calculate actual percentage—because I’m not crazy). It got to the point where it was making me hate TVZ and deleting these songs, when what I should have done is stop listening to shuffle and listen to more records. I knew that, but still have a bad taste in my mouth, so it was like eating spinach (assuming you don’t like spinach) to put this record on. Naturally, listening to TVZ on vinyl is an entirely different experience, and I kind of feel like those people who eventually tried spinach and found it to be wonderful. But maybe this is just a good record, too—it seems to be a reissue of a 1971 album (if I’m reading my Roman numerals correctly) on Metamucil-colored vinyl, and the cover photo is presumably of TVZ (but it could be anyone) (snapped through the dirty window of a pickup truck with an Instamatic and no flashcubes)—asked to pose next to the back wall of a 7-Eleven while taking out the trash after second shift.

There is a liner note insert—though I’m not sure if that’s technically correct (maybe liner notes have to be on the back album cover and be possible to read without a magnifying glass and a day off)—by Colin Escott, who, if he hasn’t already, should write a book about Townes Van Zandt—he’s got a good start, here. It looks like some interesting stuff, though, and I’ll read it later. Right now I’m enjoying this record on a sunny Saturday morning, so cold out that they had to use the Kelvin scale. This is without a doubt my favorite TVZ record I’ve heard to date (though, I don’t know if you can count the virus-infused stuff in my iTunes, anyway). Good songs, all written by TVZ—good playing on all—and his voice has a happy and carefree quality, but not without the undercurrent of sadness you always hear from him. For some reason there’s something about the quality of his singing that always makes me think of him as a friend.

2 Responses to “Townes Van Zandt “High, Low and In Between””

  1. 1 J Curtis
    December 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    I cannot honestly say that I have ever knowingly heard any TVZ music, but I can honestly say that I am turned off greatly just by his name. I am another TVZ=spinach kinda person, I guess. I couldn’t even guess what kind of music he plays, except that I assume it’s “adult” rock and/or “Americana”-ish singer-songwriter stuff, which is totally spinachy to my musical tastes usually. Unless you are Ron House. But I would never do Ron the disservice of describing any of his songs as “adult” or “Americana-ish singer-songwriter stuff.”

    • December 16, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      I’m not sure if Towns Van Zandt is considered “Americana” or not – but I don’t like that term, really, and I guess I think of it as people who are influenced by someone like Towns Van Zandt – but anyway, you might like him, because he is the real thing. My only real turn-off is what I thought of the TVZ virus, the uncanny way my “shuffle” would play every other song, him. But that’s not his fault, and he’s been gone quite a while now. If you listen to the right song, or him telling a story before a song, he might win you over. He’s very funny and melancholy, a good combination, and for good or bed he’s as sincere as Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

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December 2017

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