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A Picture - Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt

A Picture - Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt

Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt: Texas Icons On The Walls of Record Town

Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt are two Texas singing/songwriting legends.  Townes hails from our very own Fort Worth while Guy has more West Texas roots.  Their lives were highly intertwined.  They inspired untold numbers of singer/songwriters.  We honor their contribution to the rich musical legacy of Fort Worth and Texas with their picture displayed at Record Town. 

We are thrilled to introduce a very special guest author contributing this article and hopefully many more - Aimee Pietzsch. Aimee has been a dedicated friend of Record Town since the University Drive days.  She is a true music fan - look in the crowd at most live music events in Fort Worth and you will likely see Aimee!  She volunteers at the Arlington Music Hall where she is able to get in even more performances! She is a talented singer and as you will see from her article, a skilled writer.  We are thankful Aimee is a friend of Record Town.

Aimee Pietzsch

A Picture... Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt

Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt

Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt long time friends.

Townes Van Zandt - A Life of Contrasts And Deep Fort Worth Roots

A long look into the eyes of Towns Van Zandt in this photo reveals the strenuous days of a well worn life.  A life from a rich ancestry of Ft. Worth history and a name sake in that ancestry for Van Zandt County.  A life of notoriety and being well off, and at times poverty.

There is a log cabin that bears his family name in downtown Fort Worth and he is buried at Dido Cemetery near Eagle Mountain Lake.  Each year Fort Worth hosts a tribute to Townes - as many other cities do as well.

His songwriting skills have been evident in songs like "Pancho and Lefty" made popular by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.  Some notable others; "To Live is to Fly", "Waitin Around to Die", "Loretta", a bluesy tune and "Nothin".  His lyrics are descriptive and realistic to the nitty gritty of the blues, folk and country to wade in the waters of humanity and see through the eyes of a simplistic one...

His interpretation of The Rolling Stones song, "Dead Flowers" is almost like it's own composition.  He takes the song and breaks it down and sings it in a folksy wailing that leaves one spellbound listening to the lyrics.  Friendships and bonds live on - the meaning behind that song; a wanderer's tale...

Van Zandt Cottage - post civil war homestead of Townes Van Zandt's great-great-grand-uncle Major Khleber Miller Van Zandt an important military, business and political figure in Texas history.

Townes Van Zandt at unknown bar.

Townes Van Zandt at unknown bar

Guy Clark Townes Van Zandt - A Link of Common Bonds

To the novice, the relationship between Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt seems a mutual admiration of each other's talents.  But from the depths, it's a link of a common bond of wavering in and out of the moment, of finding and wrestling with the reality of the song lyrics their lives portrayed - of straying away from the mainstream - but still there on the Nashville scene.  Their lyrics are not sugar coated, but are from a spectrum of emotions.  They also had another common link - Guy's wife Susanna Clark who was deeply in love with both Guy and Townes.  Guy and Townes had bonds of Texas roots, a life of mental illness along with drink and heroin, and of staggering in and around, a no-show and tragedy and hurt and solace in each other.

The recent film. "Without Getting Killed of Caught" focuses on the complexity of their life's unease; the emotions and bond between Townes Van Zandt and Guy and Susanna Clark; as well as the depths of their spiritual and intimate bonds.

The rivers of life run to and fro - cascading the intensity of the fires that frequently burn out humanity's fagility - dark and stormy - to the romantic and majestic shores of beauty, crystal clear and angelic.  But yet clearly troubled...

These lyrics, the chorus, "If I Needed You"

(One of my favorites)

If I needed you, would you come to me?

Would you come to me for to ease my pain?

If you needed me, I would come to you

I would swim the sea for to ease your pain

The longing and the beauty, a link of Americana heart and soul, spiritual and free love and depth of meaningful expression.  The complicated facts of life reveal the bluest drift - melancholy blues giving way to the 'sanitarium blues' as Townes was hospitalized for a time - he was bipolar.  Eventually life was too much.

These lyrics...

Then upon some sunlit day

They figure

There's no need for you to stay

They're pretty sure you can't be cured

So they send you on your merry way

You hit the pavement

Hang around

Nobody's on the outside to be found

You're just tryin' to stay above the ground

You start to thinkin'

What's the use?

The sanitarium blues

The sanitarium blues

Townes Van Zandt with Susanna and Guy Clark at their house in East Nashville in spring 1972.
Texas Monthly​​

Townes Van Zandt with Susanna and Guy Clark at their house in East Nashville in spring 1972.

These pictures and artists that adorn these walls - well the stories down deep invite one to come and sit a spell; bringing new meaning to "if these walls could talk".  Where does one even begin?  Maybe by picking up a Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson or Guy Clark album - seeing through the artists eyes and where the influence has run...

I never had the privilege of seeing Townes or even Guy and Susanna.  But, as with any lasting artist, the music and the emotions behind that artist and songs do live on.  There's always a lot to explore and dive into - look at Steve Earle or Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, the Flatlander’s, Blaze Foley, Neil Young, Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and countless others.  His children live on, as do his ex wives and loves.  All a part of life’s journey.

As with many talented artists, death hits them too young - tragedy and addiction.  One stumbles to the steps of another world plagued by voices and the battle to live the trek of so many.  They are trampled upon by the darkness - the dead flowers of the hazy sky.  The heart gives way and put to rest in another life.  The streams of life flow on.  The song sings on inside these walls.

Evet poster from 1996 featuring Townes Van Zandt
Aimee ​​Pietzsch

From Aimee Pietzsch: "A poster I have of Townes on the bill of a folk festival in Arkansas not long before he passed on... Just a glance into the blink of his existence."

Interested in More?

Here are some Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt

Products Available At Record Town

Collection of music by Townes Van Zandt and books about the artist
Collection of music by Guy Clark and books about the artist