Wednesday, January 30, 2019
My Years with Townes Van Zandt- Music, Genuis, Rage by Harold F Eggers Jr (Backbeat Books)
My introduction to TVZ was via covers by Nate Hall (US Christmas) and Wino. I thought their versions were quite potent and powerful. I then acquired the 4CD box set with his early material (68-77) and quite enjoyed some of this so I was interested to read this book, written by his tour manager and pretty much his best friend. Harold, or H as Townes called him, spend 20 crazy years with Townes travelling all over the world and many many hours in cars and hotels crisscrossing the USA. Townes just lived his life as he pleased and no one could really take him off his own plan in life. He was very religious and had a lot of trauma in his teenage life and electroshock therapy when his parents had him locked up in a mental institution, as they were not happy with his life choices. This had really fucked him up for life. His songs really did come from demons and ghosts that he thought were very real. His life style was tough, surviving mainly on vodka, orange soda, cigs, coffee, and toast. He rarely ate much food or slept more than a few hours a night. It was a tough life and he was worn out and like a man in his 70s or 80s when he was only 50! This book has a lot of crazy and very interesting stories. Just a fantastic book. I loved it a lot.
It is more or less chronological and also includes quite a bit about the author as well, as he and Townes were tightly bonded together. It was interesting to find out that he never was on a major record label. He was never quite folky enough for the Dylan fans, bluesy enough for the die hard blues fans or poppy enough for mainstream country music ,so during his life, was always struggling. Sadly, the week before he died, he was making his major label debut album (Geffen) with the drummer from Sonic Youth and some other musicians but just could not pull it together and they lost patience with him. Harold had warned them that this was the way he worked. Lots of chaos and then the magic.. but they were not patient enough and he died.. Never made that record.. Pity… Excellent book with an extensive discography at the end and quite a few very nice pictures in color.