I am definitely excited to check out the new Steve Earle CD, which is all Townes Van Zandt covers. My big Townes' period was in the late 1990s -- I did several WKCR Country Festival segments dedicated to him -- and I can't say that I listen to his material all that much anymore, but when "Waitin' Around to Die" comes up on shuffle, I can't help but be drawn in.
Anthony DeCurtis had a piece on the CD in Sunday's New York Times. In it, he gets Earle to address his most famous quote about Townes -- what is probably the most famous quote about Townes: “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” DeCurtis writes,
That statement embarrasses Mr. Earle today. “Did I ever believe that Townes was better than Bob Dylan?” he asked wearily. “No.”From the catalog of crazy Townes Van Zandt stories, we get this one:
There was the time, for example, when Van Zandt, frustrated that Mr. Earle was fooling with a .357 Magnum during a get-together, picked up a pistol himself, put a couple of bullets in the chamber and spun it around, pointed the gun at his own head and pulled the trigger twice. The gun didn’t fire, but Van Zandt had made his point about bravado.Yikes!
My favorite Townes Van Zandt story comes from Columbia University professor Aaron Fox (who once kindly lent me a number of TVZ albums for one of those Country Festival segments). He recalled being in a roadhouse men's room minutes before Townes was to take the stage. Van Zandt sidles up to the urinal next to him, sizes him up, looks him in the eye, and asks, "You know what my problem is?"; he then answers his own question, "I'm too damn funny...," and passes out cold at the urinal. I don't remember if the concert was canceled or not.