Lone Star Landmark Albums: The Late Great Townes Van Zandt

By Courtney Sudbrink, Editor

In 1972, at just 28 years, he was already called “The Late Great Townes Van Zandt,” a premonition that “The Electric Cowboy” would live fast and die young, but remain forever immortal in Texas legend. Reckless to the core and fueled by a manic fire, Van Zandt crossed the brink of insanity, looked death straight in the eye and wrote the only songs in the history of American music that approach (if not surpass) the literary infused genius of Bob Dylan. Considered one of his best studio efforts, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt includes the first appearance of the iconic “Pancho and Lefty,” which embodies his unmatched penchant for eccentric storytelling and ignores contradiction in favor of perfect poetic sense.

6a00d8341c85cd53ef01b7c89243fd970b-800wiBut among his ever-present themes of desolation and despair comes the warmly sentimental classic, “If I Needed You,” exposing Van Zandt’s emotional fragility and revealing his ability to pen universally relatable, simplistic prose. While he often veers towards darkness, Van Zandt’s wry wit and boyish charm, lend not only to the anecdotal cleverness found on “German Mustard,” but also, masterful interpretation of the words of others. His cover of best friend Guy Clark’s “Don’t Let The Sunshine Fool Ya,” reflects Van Zandt’s laid-back personality and easygoing coolness.  A visionary whose songs are timeless tales of tormented truth, Van Zandt proves that despite his short time on this earth, his work exceeds that of any lifetime. The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, exemplifying his rightful place as the Lone Star State’s most prolific troubadour.

Courtney S. Lennon

Courtney S. Lennon

Courtney is the Founder and Editor of TJ Music Magazine. She specializes in Texas, and Ameripolitan Music.

She is the author of "Live Forever: The Songwriting Legacy of Billy Joe Shaver" (2020 / Texas A&M University Press).

She has written features on artists including Terry Allen, Wanda Jackson, Ryan Bingham, Dale Watson, Guy Clark, and Rodney Crowell.
Courtney S. Lennon

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