For The Sake Of The Song/Our M

Townes Van Zandt

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June 16, 2014

Format: Compact Disc



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Often referred to as "The Best Songwriter In The World" (an epithet foisted upon him by Steve Earle), singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt (1944 - 1997) was once described by the LA Times as "A cross between Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen".

However, despite his passionately-loyal (albeit minuscule) fanbase, legendary status and unconditional peer group approval, Van Zandt achieved virtually no commercial success with his own records during his lifetime, and he never recorded for a major label.

Due to the "complicated" legal mess into which his career and life descended, Van Zandt saw scant remuneration for the later hit recordings of his songs, by Emmylou Harris, Don Williams, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and spent much of his life penniless, scuffling, and in debt. However, his body of work has continued to grow in stature since his death, and latterly there has been a huge revival of interest in his records.

Van Zandt recorded eleven studio albums and a half-dozen or so live albums during his truncated career, and this is the first volume in a reissue programme which will re-release the best of these in deluxe CD mediabook form.

"Tortured", "misunderstood", "tragic", "self-destructive", "dangerous", "erratic" - living a life that was once described as 'classic Southern Gothic', Townes Van Zandt was all of these things and more. Among others, his songs have also been covered by Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Robert Krauss, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Hoyt Axton, Ricky Skaggs, Nancy Griffith and countless more. Indeed, his remains one of the more remarkable songwriting legacies in 20th Century Americana.

Produced by former Sun Records legend Cowboy Jack Clement and recorded in Nashville, in the fall of 1968, 'For The Sake Of The Song' was Townes' debut album. It appeared on the tiny Poppy label, owned by Van Zandt's then manager, Kevin Eggers; however, it received no marketing support and subsequently achieved no commercial success at all.

Moreover, in an endeavour to present Townes as a wholly contemporary performer, it tried to encompass Folk, Country and Baroque Rock - Van Zandt himself later described the album as "Underground Country" - and as a result it was sometimes criticised as having been 'over-produced'. But in spite of its commercial feel, the songs shine through and Townes' own vocals and acoustic guitar can readily be heard to good effect.

Three of the album's strongest numbers - the title track, 'Tecumseh Valley' and the chilling 'Waitin' Around To Die' - would remain in his repertoire throughout his life, the latter attracting more than twenty cover versions.

'Our Mother The Mountain' was Van Zandt's second album, and is widely acknowledged as his first classic. Recorded in California in the Spring of 1969, once again produced by Jack Clement, it featured a stellar cast of West Coast session musos, notably James Burton, Charlie McCoy, Don 'Richie' Frost and Don Randi. Also released on Egger's chronically under-funded Poppy label, it once again received no marketing support and was subsequently doomed to cult status, making minimal commercial impact.

However, this time around the arrangements and production values complemented the songs pretty much perfectly, and the album was critically well-received. Standouts were the much-covered title track; Townes' epic re-recording of 'Tecumseh Valley' from his first LP - here, retitled simply 'Tecumseh' - which added a couple more verses and took it at a slower, more melancholic pace; 'Second Lovers Song'; 'Kathleen' and 'Be Here To Love Me', the latter two titles also attracting plenty of cover versions.

More Info

Key Value
Catalogue number CHARLYX674
Barcode 0803415867424
Number of items 1
Packaging type Jewel Case
Imported No
Weight 100g
Dimensions (LxWxH) 142mm x 10mm x 125mm

Disc 1

Track Listing — Disc 1

Song Title Time
1. For The Sake Of The Song -
2. Tecumseh Valley -
3. Many A Fine Lady -
4. (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria -
5. Waitin' Around To Die -
6. I'll Be Here In The Morning -
7. Sad Cinderella -
8. The Velvet Voices -
9. All Your Young Servants -
10. Talkin' Karate Blues -
11. Sixteen Summers, Fifteen Falls -

Disc 2

Track Listing — Disc 2

Song Title Time
1. Be Here To Love Me -
2. Kathleen -
3. She Came And She Touched Me -
4. Like A Summer Thursday -
5. Our Mother The Mountain -
6. Second Lover's Song -
7. Saint John The Gambler -
8. Tecumseh -
9. Snake Mountain Blues -
10. My Proud Mountains -
11. Why She's Acting This Way -