Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997) was a singer-songwriter, born in Texas to a life on the road. Van Zandt was master of the small, intimate folk performance, such as the July 1973 show that became Live At The Old Quarter Houston, Texas, the double album on Tomato Records. As the Austin Chronicle writes of the re-released CD, “Alone with a guitar, he hushes the crowd with his visionary tunes that are by turns haunting and eccentric, yet filled with beauty and dark shadows.” Despite chronic battles with alcoholism and depression, his songwriting displayed a sense of humour and introspection, truth and beauty.
People were always telling Townes he needed to lighten up in his performances, that he was too dreary. Two of his earliest songs were talkin' blues songs that were really good and he'd usually put one of the other in every set to lighten things up. He also tried to tell jokes, which he wasn't too good at. His best one was about a cop who sees a drunk walking down the street. He says, "Hey, Buddy, you're a little loaded, you aught to go get some coffee". The guy says, "Man, I sure am glad I ran into you officer. See, somebody just stole my car." The cop says, "Where was the car when you last saw it?" The guy says, "Right on the end of this key." The cop looks at the key and says, "Well, go two blocks down to Station House #4 and report it to the desk sergeant." The guy says, "Thanks, officer. You been a big help. I'm headed that way right now." The cop looks down at the guys pants and says, "Hey buddy, before you go, you better zip up your fly." The guy looks down at his pants and says, "Aw man, they got my girl too."
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