Classic documentary: Heartworn Highways – the best music documentary ever made!

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The best music documentary ever made: Heartworn Highways

For it is just that, the best documentary about music I have ever seen! It looks like a home movie, you feel like you get insight into a world long gone and you feel like looking into a world just for the invited.

It is up on YouTube , so catch it before it gets taken down (or better, buy yourself a copy so you can see it as often as you want).

Heartworn Highways is made by James Szalapski whose vision captured some of the founders of the Outlaw Country  and Singer/Songwriter movement in Texas and Tennessee in the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976. The film was not released theatrically until 1981.

Highlights for me: The visit to Townes Van Zandt’s caravan and the Christmas party at Guy and Susanna Clark (especially Steve Earle singing Mercenary Song).

Heartworn Highways (full movie):

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Classic TV: Townes Van Zandt tribute at Austin City Limits 1997

Tribute to Townes Van Zandt
Austin City Limits
Recorded in December 7, 1997.

Townes Van Zandt, was an American singer songwriter. He is widely held in high regard for his poetic, often heroically sad songs. In 1983, six years after Emmylou Harris had first popularized it, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song “Pancho and Lefty”, scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Much of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms and backwoods cabins. For much of the 1970s, he lived in a simple shack without electricity or a phone.

He suffered from a series of drug addictions, alcoholism, and the psychiatric diagnosis bipolar disorder. When he was young, the now discredited insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory. Continue reading “Classic TV: Townes Van Zandt tribute at Austin City Limits 1997”

1969: 20 Songs Released in 1969 You Must Hear





My rules:

  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed
  • Restricted to only 20 songs

1969 was another great year in music, here are my 20 chosen songs (and those who came close).

  • Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones

    One of the greatest rock songs from any artist, “Gimme Shelter” is a glowering, snarling beast of a recording. It tiptoes in on one of music’s most recognizable chord-based riffs, ghostly “oooh’s,” and percussion ratcheting up the tension. When the full band enters—sinister low piano notes, fuzzy harmonica, organ chimes—it grabs you by the lapels and shakes you, begging you for shelter from an ominous storm.
    -Bill Janovitz (Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones)

    It first appeared as the opening track on the band’s 1969 album Let It Bleed.  Greil Marcus, writing in Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, said of it, “The Stones have never done anything better.”

    The recording features Richards playing in his new open tuning on electric guitar. The recording also features vocals by Merry Clayton, recorded at a last-minute late-night recording session during the mixing phase, arranged by her friend and record producer Jack Nitzsche. Lisa Fischer was later recruited to perform the song during their concerts.

    Oh, a storm is threat’ning
    My very life today
    If I don’t get some shelter
    Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away




    Continue reading “1969: 20 Songs Released in 1969 You Must Hear”

1968: 20 Songs Released in 1968 You Must Hear

My rules:

  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed
  • Restricted to only 20 songs

A shitload of great music was released in 1968, here are my 20 chosen songs.

  • Madame George – Van Morrison

    Madame George is the album’s whirlpool. Possibly one of the most compassionate pieces of music ever made, it asks us, no, arranges that we see the plight of what I’ll be brutal and call a lovelorn drag queen with such intense empathy that when the singer hurts him, we do too.
    -Lester Bangs

    A song from the album Astral Weeks, released in 1968. It was recorded during the first Astral Weeks session that took place on September 25, 1968 at Century Sound Studios in New York City with Lewis Merenstein as producer.

    In 1974, after he had recorded eight albums, Morrison told Ritchie Yorke when he asked him what he considered his finest single track and the one that he enjoyed the most that it was: “Definitely ‘Madame George’, definitely. I’m just starting to realize it more and more. It just seems to get at you… it just lays right in there, that whole track. The vocals and the instruments and the whole thing. I like that one.”

    Down on Cyprus Avenue
    With a childlike vision leaping into view
    Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
    Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George
    Marching with the soldier boy behind
    He’s much older now with hat on drinking wine
    And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
    The cool night air like Shalimar




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Classic Live Album: Townes Van Zandt – Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas

The set features 26 songs, all originals except for covers of “Cocaine Blues,” “Nine Pound Hammer,” and “Who Do You Love,” and Van Zandt brigs these tunes to life with an easy grace that’s a striking complement to the emotional gravity of his lyrics, though he also gives his lighter side an airing here, occasionally cracking jokes and offering a pair of funny talking blues numbers, “Talking Thunderbird Blues” and “Fraternity Blues.” If the renditions of “Pancho & Lefty,” “If I Needed You,” “Rex’s Blues,” “For the Sake of the Song,” and “Tecumseh Valley” aren’t quite definitive, they’re beautiful and affecting, and thanks to the sharp performances, on-point vocals, and superb set list, this is a superior document of Townes Van Zandt on-stage, and is a fine introduction to his body of work.
-Mark Deming (allmusic.com)

Amazon.com dates the CD release @ June 24, 2008, and that finally pushed me (Calendar OCD) to put out a post about this AWESOME album.

I love live music and most of the music I listen to is actually concert bootlegs (mostly Dylan, Van Morrison, Springsteen, The Stones, etc..), but there are some great officially released live albums out there as well.. and this is one of them. Recorded in July 1973, and released as a double live album in 1977.

We really love TVZ here @ borntolisten.com and when we made our “TWZ best songs” lists (a couple of years ago), the favourite versions on my list are mostly from this wonderful album (Kathleen, Lungs, If I Needed You, etc..).

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January 1: Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), born Hiram King Williams, is regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

John Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997), best known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American Texas Country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet. Many of his songs, including “If I Needed You,” “To Live is to Fly,” and “No Place to Fall” are considered standards of their genre.

 

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