Rethinking Townes

Maybe Townes Van Zandt's death is too fresh for me to approach Rear View Mirror and The Highway Kind with the right kind of perspective: Am I finding new and greater meaning in his songs simply because he's no longer here to sing them? I don't think so. The performances on those early albums are weak, marred by Van Zandt's inability to conceptualize his music in the studio and his tendency to turn the tragedy of his life into the stuff of beautiful, romantic losers. Throughout these posthumous collections, however, there is an air of doom that would most likely be there had Van Zandt lived another 50 years. These tragic tales of life and death are performed with conviction and, more so, finality, as though Van Zandt knew he was putting them on tape for the last time, that they would have to stand as his parting words. And for the first time in his troubled life, he finally got them right.

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