Townes Van Zandt - Frequently Asked Questions

                  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
                 for the Townes Van Zandt mail-list
           Please email corrections and suggestions to:
          (Len Coop)
                    First developed: April 1996
                     Last update: 21 Jan 2008
  • Q0. What's new in this FAQ?
  • Q1. What is the Townes Van Zandt mail-list, anyway?
  • Q2. Who is Townes Van Zandt (biographical information)?
  • Q3. Is there a Townes fan club?
  • Q4. What were Townes' musical influences/favorites?
  • Q5. Why has Townes been ignored by the mainstream music business?
  • Q6. How do I collect his albums, cassettes, and CDs?
  • Q7. How do I collect concert tapes?
  • Q8. Where can I find lyrics and guitar chords of Townes music?
  • Q9. What songs by Townes have other people recorded?
  • Q10. How do I contact Townes or book him for shows?
  • Q11. What publications and periodicals contain more info on Townes?
  • Q12. What movies and television shows feature Townes or info about him?
  • Q13. What albums by Townes should I buy?
  • Q14. Would you explain the song Talkin' Karate Blues?
  • Q15. What is happening with that 3 or 4 CD compilation project?
  • Q16. Concerning Townes' personal life, what was behind his divorce from Jeanene?
  • Q17. Were Townes' ashes placed in a cemetery or memorialized somewhere where I can visit?
  • Q18. Where can I read the article on Townes by William Hedgepath that is referred to in the TVZ songbook?
  • Q19. What guitars did Townes play and what do we know about them?
    Q0. What's new in this FAQ?
            27 Apr, 2008 - Updated Q12, with basic info on Townes The Movie, late,
            of course. Added info on Richard Dobson's "Gulf Coast Boys" to Q11.
            21 Jan, 2008 - Updated Q11, with new info on Robert Hardy's upcoming
            and long-awaited biography of Townes. Updated Q13, advice on what
            albums to collect.
            6 Apr, 2007 - Updated Q11, with new info on John Kruth's and other 
            biographical works on Townes.
            17 Nov, 2005 - Added Q19, guitars played by Townes stimulated by Jinder.
                           (minor edits 2/7/07 & 12/30/09)
            15 Jun, 2004 - Updated Q2, biographical information.
            30 May, 2001 - Updated Q2, biographical information, thanks to Robert Hardy.
            Other minor updates throughout.
            23 Mar, 2001 - Updated Q15, with some detailed discharging from Jeanene
            on the Newology anthology and why it has been so delayed.
            28 Oct, 2000 - Updated Q11, with more detail on the biography
    	underway by Robert Hardy. 
            28 Nov, 1999 - Updated Q11, with more detail on the biography
    	underway by Robert Hardy. Updated Q18, concerning the Hedgepath
    	article. Changed the links and instructions for Q1, The AboutTownes
    	mail list, which moved starting this month. Renamed and updated Q2 with
    	biographical information supplied by the Van Zandt Society via Jeanene.
            11 Oct, 1999 - Updated Q11, mentioning the several biographies 
    	that are in the works. Changed the order of the questions to be more
            1 Oct, 1999 - Added Q18, link to the long article on Townes by William
            31 Dec, 1998 - Added questions about Townes' musical influences and where 
    	the cemetary is located for paying respects, and updated several questions
    	including recommended albums, tape trading and publications with info about
    	Townes. Updated links to Marq's and Jeanene's websites.
            14 Feb. 1998 - Updates on the 4 CD box set, change in address of the
    	about-townes mail list, and addition of Q16, concerning Townes and Jeanene's
    	divorce, as answered by Jeanene herself.
            26 July 1997 - Update lyrics URL, Jeanene's web page address, Lubbock
            or Leave it address.
            18 Feb. 1997 - Began updating this FAQ since Townes' passing away.
    	Updates include how to join the about-townes mail list,
    	links to the Blue Sky and Lone Star Webstation web pages,
    	removing the question of how to find townes tour schedule, and news
    	concerning the 60-song box set.
    	21 Aug 1996 - Fixed Townes' birthday (was off by 2 years!)
    	24 July 1996 - Updated Songs recorded by others and removed from
    	this FAQ, now at tvzothers.html
    	Changed URL to Austin Music Network (but I noticed the schedule is not up to
    	Added Q15 - "What is happening with that 3 or 4 CD compilation
    	16 June 1996 - Updated Q9 
    	2 June 1996 - Updated Q9 - Frans Bevers' list of TVZ songs performed by
    	other artists.
            28 May 1996 - added index to questions, a few edits here and there,
    	added links to URLs.
    	11 May 1996 - updated Q9 - Songs recorded by others. Added some
    	URLs to web pages for lyrics and Diry Linen Concert listings. Misc
    	few edits.
    Q1. What is the Townes Van Zandt mail-list, anyway?
    It's an electronic means of communicating news and information related
    to this great artist, his songs, news, new releases, and tapes.
    A majordomo-run version of this list was set up Jan 1997 by Topher who
    runs the Guy Clark web pages. From 1998-late 1999, the list moved to Since Nov. 1999, the list moved again Twice and is now part of
    Yahoo! Groups, and is run by Jeanene Van Zandt and friends. The list has medium-
    high traffic (currently 800 to 900 posts per month), and quite a bit of off-
    topic, but friendly (and usually Texas music-related), discussion. 
    go to Yahoo! Groups:
    or using email:
    Post message:
    List owner:
    As for websites, Townes Van Zandt Central, at,
    run by Jeanene Van Zandt. The site has sound files, merchandising, and other information.
    The Yahoo Groups website offers file uploads, chat, polls, and other nice features.
    Also, there are two major fan-run web pages for Townes; the Blue Sky pages run by
    and A Lone Star Webstation run by Marquetta:
    between these, quite a bit of information is available, plus links to
    other web pages such as the 1997-arrival TVZ Record Collection by Bill 
    Campbell (moved to Marq's pages 1998).
    Q2. Who is Townes Van Zandt (biographical information)?
    Townes is a songwriter and singer who usually performs original
    material, while occasionally performing traditional folk and blues
    classics, especially those of a major early influence, Lightnin' Hopkins. 
    He has recorded ten studio albums and released five live recordings on a
    variety of labels before his death. Currently, (May 2001), 25 albums have
    been released and several more are upcoming.
    Townes was born on March 7, 1944.  He grew up in parts of Texas, Colorado, Montana, and 
    elsewhere. He spent his Jr and Sr years in High School (1960-62) at Shattuck
    Military Academy in Minnesota. He lived in a number of areas growing 
    up, but is most strongly associated with the Houston/Austin axis of the '70s,
    and has lived in Nashville since the 1980s.  Although none of his recordings
    sold extremely well, several of his songs have been major hits for other
    artists (especially Pancho & Lefty and If I Needed You).  He toured the
    world regularly, usually appearing alone with his guitar, although he has
    appeared with Guy Clark on some tours, and fronted various acoustic and electric
    bands, mostly throughout the 1980s. 
    More on Townes' lineage and biographical data (provided by the Van Zandt 
    Society and Jeanene Van Zandt, updated 5/26/01 with info provided by Robert Hardy):
    On Townes' Lineage:
    We have traced the lineage of Townes Van Zandt this far
    back. Do you have anything going farther back and can we get this
    information registered with The Van Zandt Society? (contact Jeanene 
    Van Zandt).
    Jacob Van Zandt Sr. was born about 1750, came from Holland with the
    Moravian Colony that settled in Pennsylvania and later moved to North
    Carolina. He married Catherine Moon of Virginia who was born in 1751.
    About the beginning of the 19th century they moved to Franklin County, TN.
    Both are buried in Salem TN.
    Jacob Van Zandt Jr. was born in 1786 and died in 1834. He married Mary
    Isaacs, born in 1795 and died in 1840. Both are buried in Salem TN.
    Isaac Van Zandt was born in Franklin County, TN July 10, 1812. In 1833 he
    married Francis Cooke Lipscomb born in 1816. He died October 11,1847 and
    is buried in Marshall, TX. She died in Ft. Worth in 1909 and is buried in
    Oakwood Cemetery there.
    Isaac Lycurgus Van Zandt was born January 5, 1840. He married Ellen
    Henderson who was born in 1849 in Shelby County TX. He died in 1935 and
    both are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Ft. Worth.
    Townes' paternal grandparents were:
    William Lipscomb Van Zandt was born Feb. 3, 1875 in Tarrant County TX. He
    married Bell Williams [born June 30, 1882] also of Tarrant County TX. He 
    died April 8, 1948. She died in Feb. 24, 1965. Both are buried in Dido 
    Cemetery, Tarrant County.
    Townes' family:
    Harris Williams Van Zandt born 1913 in Dido Community, Tarrant County, TX.
    He married Dorothy Townes of Houston, TX in 1940. He died in Houston in Jan. 1966.
    and she in Sept. 1983. Both are buried in River Oaks Cemetery in Houston.
    Townes' sister is Donna Spence. Townes had a brother William Lipscomb Van Zandt 
    (Bill), born in Fort Worth, Texas on May 5, 1949.  Bill graduated from The Kinkaid 
    School and the University of Texas at Austin.  Bill worked in the computer industry 
    and taught computer classes.  He passed away Aug. 20, 2009 at age 60. 
    Marriages and children:
    John Townes Van Zandt was born March 7, 1944 in Ft. Worth Texas.
    He married Fran Petters in 1965. The marriage produced a son, John
    Townes Van Zandt II born April 11, 1969 in Houston TX. Townes and his 
    first wife (Fran) were divorced on January 16, 1970. She later remarried, 
    changing her last name to Lohr. 
    Townes married his second wife, Cindy Morgan, in Nashville in September 1978 (they
    had lived together since late 1974); they were divorced on February 10, 1983
    in Travis County Texas. Cindy later remarried, changing her last name to Lindgram. 
    Townes third and final marriage was to Jeanene Munsell, who was born in Corpus Christi, 
    Texas on February 21, 1957.  The pair met in Austin TX December 9th 1980 the day after 
    John Lennon was killed. They took up residency together that very day.  They were legally 
    married March 14, 1983 ten days before the birth of their first child William Vincent. 
    Their second child, Katie Belle Van Zandt was born nine years later on February 14, 1992 
    in Nashville, TN.  They were divorced May 2, 1994 although they remained extremely close 
    and bought a second home together on Old Hickory Lake in Mt. Juliet TN which Townes named 
    Bayou Self. When off the road back home in Tennessee, Townes split his time between the 
    family home, The Ponderosa when he was behaving well enough to be around the children and 
    Bayou Self when he wasn't.
    Townes died at the lakehouse in Mt. Juliet of a heart attack following hip surgery on New 
    Years Day, 1997, the same day his idol, Hank Williams, passed away. Jeanene and the children 
    were by his side.  Some of his remains (ashes) are buried in the Van Zandt family plot at 
    Dido Cemetery, Tarrant County, Texas which is on land donated to the town by Townes' ancestors.
    Q3. Is there a Townes fan club?
    Currently, the mail-list about-townes (see Q1 above) can be considered
    Townes' fan club.  The best place to go for merchandise including CDs, videos,
    T-shirts, and posters, is Townes Van Zandt Central, at - LC 31/Dec/1998
    Q4. What were Townes' musical influences/favorites?
    There are many interviews where Townes was asked this question, and usually he
    mentions Lightnin' Hopkins, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan, among others. Here is one
    fairly recent (1991) answer by Townes:
    "Up until Elvis hit, which was when I was about 9, it had been totally Hank
    Williams and Lefty Frizzell and Roy Acuff.  I used to hear it on my dad's radio as
    he would drive up and down from oilfield to oilfield. Then Elvis hit and Ricky
    Nelson and Jerry Lee and Chuck Berry.  Seeing Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan
    Show was the starting point for me becoming a guitar player.  My sister had two
    or three of her girlfriends over to watch it, and they were screaming, and I was
    just a little kid, barely allowed in the room.  I just thought that Elvis had all the 
    money in the world, all the Cadillacs and all the girls, and all he did was play the
    guitar and sing.  That made a big impression on me.  As I got older, I would search for
    things to listen to as opposed to listening to whatever was being played, and I
    discovered Lightnin' Hopkins, and then Booker White and Muddy Waters and all of those
    guys.  Lightnin' Hopkins had a big effect upon my guitar playing.  I had been totally
    strumming the guitar, but listening to Lightnin' I realized you could play separate
    notes.  Bob Dylan came along about that time and I heard 'The Times Thay Are A
    Changing'.  He was using a regular guitar and regular words and putting them together
    and coming out with songs that meant something, and I've been writing songs ever since."
    One magazine interview (published Aug. 1987) listed these as Townes' favorite LP's:
    	1. Hard Again - Muddy Waters
    	2. Mozart's Violin Concertos Nos. 4 & 5
    	3. The Times They Are a Changin' - Bob Dylan
    	4. Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones
    	5. Automobile Blues - Lightnin' Hopkins
    	6. Atlantic 12 String - Blind Willie McTell
    	7. Tchaikovsky - Piano Concertos - Van Cliburn
    	8. Richard Dobson's first LP
    	9. Complete Hank Williams
    	10. Old #9 - Guy Clark
    	11. Surrealistic Pillow - Jefferson Airplane
    	12. Waiting for the Naked Girl to Call - Tim Henderson
    - LC 31/Dec/1998
    Q5. Why has Townes been ignored by the mainstream music business?
    The artistic reason: the intensity of his lyrics, often dealing 
    in stark terms with depressing topics, are not commercial, although 
    several of his romantic songs have sold many copies for other artists 
    (e.g. Doc Watson, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Willie Nelson and 
    Merle Haggard, Don Gibson).
    The pragmatic business reason: a lack of exposure, his long-standing
    health problems and an average of only 1 new studio album every 7-8 years for
    two decades.  He has been known to put on somewhat erratic shows at times as
    Q6. How do I collect his albums, cassettes, and CDs?
    also see Q13. What albums by Townes should I buy?.
    Townes originally recorded his first several LPs for Poppy records
    from 1969 through 1973, which then went bankrupt, only to re-emerge as
    Tomato records, which re-issued the LPs in 1977 when they issued the 1973
    concert "Live At The Old Quarter", and then the 1978 studio release "Flyin' Shoes". 
    These were also released on cassette and 8-track tapes.  In 1987 he
    released "At My Window" on Sugar Hill Records, and has subsequently released
    CDs and cassettes on Sugar Hill and other labels in the USA and abroad. 
    The Poppy/Tomato albums were reissued by Rhino in the 1990s, along with
    "First Album" (previously the LP "For The Sake Of The Song", which was the
    only LP he refused to issue on CD in the 1980s), and the previously
    unreleased "The Nashville Sessions" from 1973. 
    His most recent recordings include "No Deeper Blue" (1994, Sugar Hill),
    "A Far Cry From Dead" (1999 Arista Austin), and "In Pain" (1999 Normal).  
    See the TvZ Blue Sky home page - URL: 
    for a complete discography.
    Q7. How do I collect concert tapes?
    Carefully; very carefully :-)
    Since Townes has gone as long as eight years between recordings 
    of new material, many of his songs are performed in concert for several 
    years before being recorded.  Those looking for tapes of concerts may 
    try the tape traders network, now with many "deep catalog" traders, at
    Q8. Where can I find lyrics and guitar chords of Townes music?
    Many songs with chords and lyrics may be found at the Blue Sky web pages:
    A songbook [For The Sake Of The Song] was published in 1977,
    and is sometimes available from Jeanene Van Zandt's website,
    Jeanene has a full lyrics book that has yet to be published.
    Bo Sjogen has transcribed lyrics from most of Townes' songs and can
    be found here: 
    Q9. What songs by Townes have other people recorded?
    There are more than 3,600 recordings of Townes' songs by others, 
    full list, with listings linked by each song from the Guide to TVZ Songs. If you 
    would like to submit either commercial or non-commercial cover songs
    that others have recorded, be sure to contact Frans and Hans. 
    Q10. How do I contact Townes or book him for shows?
     While this question is no longer relevant since 1/Jan/1997, you may wish
     to contact his former booking agent, Keith Case:
    	Keith Case and Associates
    	59 Music Square West
    	Nashville, TN 37203
    	615-327-4646 Phone
    	615-327-4949 FAX
    Q11. What publications and periodicals contain more info on Townes?
    Remarkably, up until March, 2007, no books had been written exclusively
    about Townes.  Townes' 1977 songbook, "For the Sake of the Song"
    [edited by Joseph F. Lomax, published 1977 by Wings Press, usually available],
    is perhaps the best source to date, as it has a brief biography by Lola
    Scobey, an introduction by John M. Lomax, and words and music to 14 songs.
    We count at least eight book-type efforts that are either in the works, are
     just completed, or are finished but await the right publisher to come along:
    1. A new TvZ songbook was put together by Jeanene in the fall of 1998, but it 
    is waiting for the right publisher before it gets released.
    2. In March 2007, a biography by John Kruth, "To Live's to Fly - The Ballad 
    of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt" published by Da Capo Press (March 30, 2007).
    collected reviews
    3. Robert Earl Hardy has signed a contract with the University of North Texas
    Press to publish a biography of singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt in the
    spring of 2008. UNT Press is a top-tier academic publisher with a highly
    respected line of books in the field of American (particularly Texas) music and
    cultural history. The book titled A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes
    Van Zandt will draw on meticulous research that spanned eight years,
    including interviews with Van Zandt's family, colleagues and friends (Mickey Newbury,
    Jack Clement, Guy and Susanna Clark, Mickey White, Rex Bell, Dan Rowland,
    Richard Dobson, John Lomax III, Van Zandt's brother and sister, cousins, and
    all three of his ex-wives, among many others). 
    Websites now available from Robert Hardy and the Univ. of N. Texas Press. 
    4. A biography by William Hedgepath (see Q18),
    which is said to have been in the making since 1972, and that it is mainly
    waiting for the right publishing contract.
    5. Another biography is in preparation by Larry Monroe (KUT Austin DJ, interviewer and
    friend of Townes) together with Harold Eggers (Townes' friend and road manager for
    many years). Harold has started a website/blog on Townes, available at:
    6. Wrecks Bell and Don Morris are close to releasing a book of remembrances about 
    A couple other works are out there with references to Townes:
    Richard Dobson wrote "The Gulf Coast Boys" which was published Jan 1998 and
    is about Townes, Richard, Rex Bell, Mickey White and others during the 
    era when they played and traveled together as the Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys.
    See the webpage for more info.
    Da Capo Press in 1997 released "Songwriters on Songwriting : The Expanded
    Version" by Paul Zollo, editor of the wonderful SONG TALK magazine.  This
    book is 52 of his really great, technical craft talks with the nation's
    great songwriters. His interview with Townes Van Zandt done in Nashville
    in 1990 is included.
    Nanci Griffith has a book out entitled "Nanci Griffith's
    Other Voices : A Personal History of Folk Music" that mentions Townes'
    influence quite a lot.
    Goldmine published a comprehensive career retrospective in the
    late 1980s. Musician had a major interview with TvZ and Steve Earle in
    summer 1995 (re-published in Australia in late 1995; Rhythms? ).  TvZ CDs
    get reviewed in most magazines which cover folk music. 
    Townes has been written up in many more periodicals such as Acoustic Songwriter 
    and No Depression, but a comprehensive compilation is not available at this time.
    -LC 21/Jan/08 & 27/Apr/08
    Q12. What movies and television shows feature Townes or info about him?
    Rake Films released the only feature documentary on Townes thus far, "Be Here To Love
    Me", see
    This is an excellent film for fans and those curious about creative genius vs. self-
    destructive habits. The director, Margaret Brown did an excellent job; the movie has 
    received very favorable reviews for the most part. The film is widely distributed on DVD.
    Townes performed 2 songs (Waitin Around To Die, Pancho & Lefty) in "Heartworn Highways",
    a 1981 released film featuring numerous Texas and alt-country performers including Guy Clark,
    Steve Earle, The Charlie Daniels Band, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, Richard
    Dobson, and numerous others, filmed during 1975-76. Re-released on DVD with
    numerous bonus performances in 2004. The tour of holes and such by Townes with Cindy
    and Geraldine is a major highlight in the movie.
    There was a 30 minute TV special about TvZ on Dutch Television around
    1990. The name of the program: All along the Watchtower: interview and studio
    performance). Other places to look is for videos taken at various venues.
    Look out for a 3 hr show from Woolwich Tramshed in London 1987, where a TV
    film crew reportedly filmed the whole thing.
    He appeared on Austin City Limits twice (including in 1976), on Texas Connection
    twice, on American Music Shop at least once (the Nanci Griffith special),
    and gave a brief interview in Nanci Griffith's Other Voices, Other Rooms video (1993). 
    He has appeared on numerous FM radio shows, and had concerts broadcasted
    or performed live in the studio, including a BBC session for Mary Costello
    in the early 1990s.
    The Austin Music Network features in-studio videos of Townes, and
    has aired a 60 minute special, filmed Jan 17, 1995. 
    At least six movies feature Townes songs: "The Big Lebowski" (1998) (a critically 
    acclaimed movie by the Coen brothers) - Townes rendition of "Dead Flowers" is perfectly
    matched to the tone at the movies end; "The Stepmom" (1998) starring Julia Roberts, who 
    sings the first verse to "If I Needed You"; "In Bruges" (2008) w/Colin Farrell and Ralph 
    Fiennes featured "St. John the Gambler"; "Crazy Heart" (2009) featured "If I Needed You", the
    song was loosely based in part on TVZ and other Texas/Country Troubadours; Tim Blake 
    Nelson's movie "Leaves of Grass" (2009) features a live version of "Rex's Blues" and other 
    signs of Townes throughout, plus Steve Earle is in the cast. "Lawless" (2012) features 
    Emmylou Harris singing "Snake Song" after Ralph Stanley Sings a Nick Cave song, "Fire In the Blood".
    Q13. What albums by Townes should I buy?
    Review "TVZ - discography with comments" at:
    Currently (2008) there are 13 original studio, 11+ re-packaged studio, and
    18+ live albums, covering ca. 122 original songs and 48 "cover" songs (see
    "TVZ - A guide to his recorded music at:
    The strongest consensus seems to be that beginners should start 
    with Live At The Old Quarter (LATOQ) stunning performances, solo, of many of
    his major songs as of 1973) and his 3rd album "Townes Van Zandt" (1970), 
    which was a re-strategizing production of several songs from the somewhat strangely
    produced first album "For the Sake of the Song (1968), and backs off from the 
    intensity of his most brilliant and gripping "Our Mother the Mountain" (1969). 
    That 3rd album is lightly produced, immediately compelling, and can sustain 
    repeated listening without producing fatigue or excessive loss of body fluids ;-) 
    After starting with the two above, I would obtain them in this approximate order:
    "At My Window" - 1987, "Flying Shoes" - 1978, "Our Mother the Mountain" - 1969, 
    "High, Low, & In Between" - 1972, "No Deeper Blue - 1994, "Nashville Sessions"
     - recorded 1977, released 1993, and Delta Momma Blues, released 1971. 
    I am less enthralled by another early album "The Late, Great, Townes Van Zandt" 
    - 1973 (his least focused and most over-rated, yet perhaps recorded
    at the peak of his genius), and while most shun his first album "For the Sake
    of the Song", I find it rather quant and a neat contrast to his more accessible
    3rd album mentioned above.
    The later studio albums are mainly re-recorded songs with added production (so use
    modern studio practices but without Townes input), such as "A Far Cry From Dead" -
    1999, and "Texas Rain" - 2001 (Townes with Guest artists), which are both 
    interesting efforts that canot be dismissed.   
    His best live albums other than LATOQ include Rear View Mirror - recorded 1979, 
    released 1993, "Road Songs" - 1994 (all great cover songs), and "In Pain" - 1999.
    Next I would get "Live and Obscure" - 1987, which for some reason (production most 
    likely) I rate lower than I would like to - These are well rehearsed live tracks
    when Townes had a full band, during a great era of his career.  It is a nice
    change of pace from all his live and studio releases in any case. I believe no
    album captured the live feel of Townes with his Band in the 1980s, but this does
    come close at times.
    The live series produced by Harold Eggers (and Townes in some cases), including
    "Road Songs" and "In Pain", above, plus "The Highway Kind" and "Absolutely Nothing"
    in particular, are quite collectable and not without interesting and 
    unusual takes, and can be viewed as a fantastic, almost bootleg archive, It is 
    doubtful that new or casual fans should seek out very many in the series. More 
    likely I would suggest next "A Gentle Evening With Townes Van Zandt" - recorded 
    1969, released 2002, and the oldest available studio recordings "In The Beginning"
     - recorded 1967, released 2003. This was trumped a bit in digging up the past 
    by the 2004 release of "Live at the Jester Lounge (Houston Texas 1966) which is 
    a real gift to those fascinated with the development of genius in folk musicians. 
    If you want to get to know Townes via songs + interviews, check out "Last Rights
     (US) / Documentary (Europe)" - 1997. 
    Other than perhaps the reissues such as "Best of" and "Anthology", I like nearly 
    every album. 
    These reissues are unnecessary because they are completely recycled material and mostly
    offer no benefit to Townes' Estate, but otherwise are not bad as reissues. One reason
    a "Best of" compilation does not make sense to true fans is because 90% of his written
    songs are real gems, and none were true hits excepting Pancho and Lefty, and so 
    cherry picking is wasted effort.
    Some people do not like Townes' last live works, because his voice tended to stray 
    off key and become strained. I think as a matter of taste, that this is a minor 
    fault and that these performances actually served the nature of the music 
    ("In Pain" is a fitting title and good example of this). 
    There are several tribute albums and many many covers of Townes' songs, so if you
    don't especially like his voice do seek them out. Check out Nora Jones, Cowboy Junkies,
    Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Paul K., etc.
    In summary, get any three early albums, especially those listed above, and you 
    will be hooked and want to seek the remainder out. - LC updated 21/Jan/2008
    Q14. Would you explain the song Talkin' Karate Blues? I can't tell if the song is funny or offensive.
    When the song was written in the '60s, it was meant to be
    humorous and it probably was.  Townes has introduced the song saying that 
    he once performed it for the Japanese embassy and they liked it - so it 
    can't be that bad.  I believe he performed it later in his career because,
    as a simple talking blues type song, he has not forgotton how to perform
    it.  It was not in Townes' character to try to be offensive.
    Q15. What is happening with that 3 or 4 CD compilation project?
    July 1996 - This project is a major retrospective of Townes work, with
    re-recordings of 60 of his songs.  So far, other artists have contributed
    vocal and instrumentals on 30 tracks.  There are promises from several
    other artists including the Cowboy Junkies and Sonic Youth to help with
    more tracks.  The producers are seeking financial support to help finish
    recording, mix and master this long-awaited effort.  
    LC - as per conversation with Jeanene Van Zandt, July 24, 1996
    Jan. 1997 - Details for the project were brought up to date by Kevin Eggers,
    and posted at the Blue Sky pages at:
    Feb. 1998 - The project has been delayed due to disputes about production
    values between Tomato records and the estate of TVZ.  Specifically, many of
    the tracks are claimed to be overproduced, with female backup vocalists 
    and other such excesses.  I have heard a few of the tracks myself and agree
    that they tend to be overproduced. On the bright side, hopefully, these
    issues will be resolved and the basic tracks, which Townes laid down mostly
    between 1988 and 1990, sound great, and are well worth waiting for the
    right versions. - LC
       Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2001 09:20:39 -0600
       From: "Jeanene Van Zandt"  Subject: Newthology
    >I really hope this doesn't end up abandoned and forsaken, eternally lost,
    Yea well, too bad Kevin decided to put the Johnson Wax Singers, out of tune,
    off time and on another planet, mudded all over 30 of Townes precious tracks 
    or it would all ready be out. Oh please Kevin, more string and horns! (added 
    after Townes died) Remember that step of artistic control everybody keeps forgetting 
    Oh and by the way the Townes  vocal track of Marie with Willie is STOLEN!
    It's my vocal track from "NO Deeper Blue" that when I was trying to help
    Kevin before I heard all the crap he had added to Townes's tracks after he
    died and before he died with out his artistic consent, I took it down to the
    studio to see if it would work because when Townes recorded that collection 
    he was saying "No new songs!"  Marie was new at the time he did those 
    recordings, and I might add with the condition that Kevin sign a contract 
    that all his advances were paid back and that he would finally be accounted
    to for past royalties. Kevin got his recordings, Townes never saw any accounting.
    Kevin was hot in the studio to get it out 3 months after Townes died  and I
    was helping him all I could...till I heard the stupid doo whop crap he had
    added and we were all buddy ,buddy till I said, "You have to take those
    background ( really foreground singers) OFF!" Then I was the she devil from
    You folks will just have to wait till Mr. Eggers Conforms! Sorry, Hope we're
    not holding up your lives! All Kevin Has to do is push one button and get
    those stupid singer OFF and compensate us for Townes' Marie vocal or that
    record would already be out.
    It also could have something to do with all the DIFFERENT people he got
    advances money from using Townes' name. I heard he's asking a million
    dollars for the recording. Good Luck!
    Can you believe that he has a recording of two dead Texas legends, Townes
    and Doug Sahm singing "Two Girls"  which was Townes' favorite track and he
    put those stupid singers on that too! Townes would be mortified!
    Townes said in an interview in '95. "if they are waiting for me to die to
    put that out, so I'll be less trouble to them, they are making a big
    mistake, cause Jeanene will still be here!"
    Townes must have seen the future!
    Jeanene Van Zandt
    > P.S.  Are they really called the Johnson Wax Singers?
    No, they are The Chromatics. Two sisters and a brother. And it's not their
    fault either. Here's the story.
    While Townes was in Austin during one of the recording sessions Townes took
    time to do a benefit that was going on and the Chromatics were also on the
    ticket. As was Townes' habit many times when he was recording, if he was
    around other musicians or ran into one in a bar, he'd say, Hey, I'm
    recording a record why don't you drop by and play some. He did the same on
    this evening and asked the Chromatic to drop by and sing on a few songs,
    which they did the next day. Which is fine, that's what Townes wanted to do
    that day and he was right there. We have no problem with them being on those
    When the recordings were finished Townes was sent his tape copy of the
    recordings (which I still have) and the singers were on about 5 songs out of
    the 60, which is reasonable.
    As far as Townes knew before he died the record was finished and he was
    extremely proud of it. These are the tapes Townes played for his friends
    saying, "Here's my new record. It only has to be mixed and mastered!"
    There was never any talk about adding any more background vocals. But
    somewhere between then and Townes' death, Kevin took it upon himself to call
    them back into the studio and put them on 25 more songs. According to
    written statements and testimony from people who were in the studio, Kevin
    had them in the studio singing all day and into the dawn and that's exactly
    what it sounds like. Very tired singers. That's why I say it isn't their
    fault. Putting them all over the album has totally messed up the diversity and
    dynamics of the album as a whole.
    When mixing began here in Nashville I went to the studio to represent the
    Estate as the Executrix (female for Executor for those of you not in the
    probate biz) and it was then that it was discovered what had been done.
    It freaked me out so bad, I cried. As each song rolled by I begged, Oh No,
    not on that one too.... and on and on it went till I was sick to my stomach
    with a deep sinking feeling. The droning drags down the recordings and all 
    you remember about the song is "nothing", it's totally distracting  to the 
    point that you forgot what song you just heard.
    I immediately contacted JT (Townes' eldest son) and he flew up here.
    I played him copies of the "new versions" and he too was sickened. 
    We both immediately wrote letters of disapproval and sent them registered
    mail to kevin and got the lawyers after him. I guess when Will turns 18 
    next week he too will be sending a letter. He thinks it sucks also.
    All we want is the record to be put back the way it was that Townes loved.
    It is his career that will be damaged. The producer would take the backlash
    from the press, but the general public doesn't care about producers, they'll
    think Townes did it on purpose, which he did not.
    We are not asking for the moon. We contacted him immediately and even stated
    that it would be wise to fix it now so he would not incur the cost of having
    to go back and redo the mixing which in a digital studio is very expensive.
    Townes was very insistant that the clause in the contract about his rights
    passing to us was in there. He had good reason!
    The last time I left the studio the tapes were being sent to New Orleans to
    be orchestrated! OH BOY!
    Jeanene Van Zandt
    Q16. Concerning Townes' personal life, what was behind his divorce from Jeanene?
    Excerpted from Jeanene Van Zandt's response to a query on about-townes:
    > When I read Jeanene's posts they give the impression that she and Townes
    > were inseparable.
    > But I understand that he had moved (or rather was kicked out) from their
    > house in Smyrna to an apartment in Nashville.
    > And that Jeanene had divorced Townes.
    ...if you are referring to divorce as two people not loving each other
    and going their seperate ways, well that never happened to me and Townes.
    We Loved each other the same from the moment we met until he took his last
    breath. We have sixteen years of history and two and a half (JT) children
    together and Townes never referred to me as anything other than his wife
    till the day he died.
    If you are asking if there is a stack of papers down at the
    courthouse that says I was no longer liable for his actions or
    responsible for his debts, you bet there is which right now as I go
    through an IRS audit for him as the Executrix to his Estate and the
    natural and legal guardian to the two minor heirs who's inheritance is at
    stake I am so thankful. He gave his songs to me and he knew that they would
    be protected and would stay in his family till they belong to the folks 100
    years from now. - JVZ Jan 6, 1998
    Q17. Were Townes ashes placed in a cemetery or memorialized somewhere where I can visit?
    Some of Townes' ashes were laid beneath a headstone in the Dido Cemetery
    in Dido Texas just outside of Ft. Worth. It is in the Van Zandt Family
    plot just to the left, close to the entrance. - JVZ Jun 30, 1998
    Q18. Where can I read the article on Townes by William Hedgepath that is referred to by Lola Scobey in the TVZ songbook?
    The article in question, it seems, is not available, but another article from the same 
    era by that author is available in full, "Townes Van Zandt - messages from the outside".
    This was published in Atlanta's Hittin' the Note magazine back in May 1977.
    The article was mailed to me by Jeanene back in 1996 to add to the Blue Sky pages.
    The article included two nice photographs of Townes, which I could scan in - but it
    would look pretty bad, being a photocopy and all. The article mentioned by Lola Scobey 
    quoted Townes talking about his depression and included him saying "There's been times 
    when my hands--I took them--and I have the feeling, a very strange feeling, that 
    if I had a machine and could just chop my hands off, then everything would be fine". 
    If anyone knows of such a quote in an article by Hedgepath, please let us know.
    Q19. What guitars did Townes play and what do we know about them?
    [material added by other sources in brackets, otherwise posted by Jinder 5-11-2005]
    After seeing the effect Elvis had, a Harmony guitar became his christmas present (presumably
    ca 1956-7 [7th grade as per TVZ interview 3/28/71]) because he solemnly promised his father
    that the first song he'd learn would be Bobby Helms' 1957 hit "Fraulein". The Harmony was
    "almost plastic and had a heavy black finish". Guitar lessons came with the guitar but were
    too boring [3/28/71].
    [Ovation - When I knew TVZ he was playing an Ovation.  I once called it "plastic" and he 
    informed me that it was 'fiber glass".  I think I irritated him with that one. 
    reslems on about-townes 9-19-1999]
    ca. 1968-ca. 1971
    Gibson Hummingbird, J45 or similar (back cover shot of "Our Mother The Mountain")
    ca. 1971-ca. 1979
    [It seems implied that one or more Martin guitars were used over this period - LC]
    Martin D35 (up 'til and including the "Late Great..." album period)
    [D35 Martin...that was the guitar on "Rear View Mirror" and "Roadsongs."
    That guitar had a lot of bass overtone and was hard to mike properly.
    (This period was before the ubiquity of acoustic pick-ups built in
    guitars.) The Martin was customised with "RJ" in mother of pearl in the neck
    I think he got it in a pawnshop, it probably went the same way.  
     - Ruester 3/29/04 and ealier postings on about-townes]
    [Townes told me once that while parting in Austin he found himself alone at 
    closing time with nothing to drink and decided to go to an after hours club 
    with a friend he''d just met that night. The club wound up be an after hours 
    gay club but had booze but was also in a real sleazy part of town. After 
    drinking for several more hours he left and was confronted by some jerks that 
    beat him up and stole his Martin. His last comment on that was "I really liked 
    that guitar". - Skip 9-19-1999]
    ca. 1973
    A red Gibson J45 or J50 slope-shoulder [seen in "Heartworn Highways" and in 
    "Be Here To Love Me", including where Townes is at the the Austin club Castle 
    Creek with Rex Bell and Mickey White. This guitar was loaned to Townes for 
    making the movie by his amigo Richard (Ricardo) Dobson, who later lost it 
    in a divorce. It had been customized a bit, with a hand-carved ebony bridge 
    made by Guy Clark - R. Dobson 2-28-2006]
    ca. 1977-ca. 1983
    Epiphone EJ200 (jumbo) or similar (late '70s/early '80s pics-according to Steve Earle, Townes 
    "Hated (this guitar) so much he shot it full of holes") (3/11/77 observed playing this by ND)
    ca. 1983-ca. 1990
    Takamine F340S Dreadnought or similar (Houston '88 footage, various '80s pics...
    there is a Harold Eggers quote saying about how the guitar was nicknamed "The Tin Man" 
    because it was prone to being trebly..."He (Townes) loved that guitar, but if the treble 
    was turned up too high you could really hear it ring." )
    ca. 1991-ca. 1996
    Gibson J200 ('91/'92 onwards...I believe this was made by Gibson luthier Chip Phillips, who
    said "Every time I saw him since he got that guitar, he was very appreciative. Townes wasn't 
    a materialistic person, but you'd have had a hard time prying that guitar away from him. It 
    was his pride and joy.") [Townes got the J-200 through a Gibson endorsement. According 
    Phillips a friend of Van Zandt's, the instrument has a spruce top, maple back and sides, 
    a maple neck, a rosewood mustache bridge, and factory-installed SORS (Symbiotic-Oriented 
    Receptor System) electronics with a piezo-type saddle pickup and built-in preamp. 
    - about-townes 12-9-2000]
    [It's a Gibson J-200--it's big enough to hide behind--and sometimes, I swear, my guitar plays 
    itself. Guitars are alive--I say that and people go, 'Yeah, far out!'--but I mean it. My guitar 
    is alive! That wood ain't dead yet, you know?! - TVZ, New York Times, 11/24/1994]
    [When Townes died he had 3 guitars. I gave Tin Man to Katie Belle which she makes up
    Blues songs on in open tuning. I gave the J-200 to JT (you may have seen him play it on the 
    ACL tribute).  Will, who started playing just before Townes died; Townes called him
    a natural, got the custom TVZ & Newman(sp?)Jones (who makes guitars for Keith Richards) 
    electric guitar. It's a beauty.  Will has never played again since Townes died.
    Jeanene Van Zandt 9-19-1999]
    I'm curious to know what Townes' choicest pick of guitar was as I regard him as a general 
    all-round doyen of both playing and great tone.

    by Len Coop, Chris Friedrich, Jeanene Van Zandt and others from the TVZ mail list