A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt Paperback – Nov 15 2009
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"This is an account of a period of time in music history as well as of one man's struggle with his own life, a struggle that uses the creative process as a way to salvation." - Kathleen Hudson, author of Telling Stories, Writing Songs and Executive Director, Texas Heritage Music Foundation "The author talked to many, many people who knew Townes. His work offers a wealth of anecdotes and information." - Louis Black, editor, Austin Chronicle and executive producer of Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Robert Earl Hardy has been a professional writer for twenty-five years, with articles on twentieth century American music and the arts published in newspapers, journals, and magazines, most recently in The Oxford American. Also a musician, since the 1970s, Mr. Hardy has played guitar in rock & roll, rhythm & blues, and honky-tonk bands in the Washington, DC, area. He lives in Laurel, Maryland.
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Top Customer Reviews
A very complex & talented amer folk- singer-songwriter
Also deals w/ the development & centrality of his mental illness & how it undermined greater fulfillment of his creative output & brings u inside the Texas/Nashville singer-songwriter kristofferson//newbury/ et al music scene of the 60s & 70s - I've read a lot of bio esp music & historical & this stands right up there with
Transport u right in2 the picture music bios like Catch a Wave re Brian Wilson & shaky re Neil young
- if u like his music u' ll like the backstory presented here - & I read it in kindle form
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've also read the other biography out there, To Live's To Fly, and there's simply no comparison. TLTF was largely anecdotal and the author broke a key rule of biography writing by attempting to project his own importance into the story; Hardy has simply done an exhaustive amount of research and cites all of his sources. He presents the story and then steps aside, so this is the one to go with if you want a more factual recounting of Townes' life. 100% worth the price and read if you're a fan, and if you aren't it just might convert you.
Don't be put off by the book's quasi-academic framework - there is none of the stuffiness commonly associated with a university press, and the copious endnotes only serve to add vital material. The photographs in the book's centre suffer from poor reproduction, and it's a shame that the budget couldn't run to art paper for them, but it's a minor quibble. In the final analysis, Hardy has seemingly written the definitive story of this extraordinary man, and no lover of Van Zandt's music can call their collection complete without this book on their shelves.
Unfortunatley but probably understandably there are aspects and periods of Townes' life that are not fully explained such as when and how Townes finally quit Heroin. One period I found slightly lacking was the later period where he was running around with people like Blaze Foley. This time is really very briefly brushed over.
The last days of Townes' life are very well written and paint a picture of a man who was a physical wreck and appeared to be just (like the first song he ever wrote) waiting around to die. Although I have no way of verifying its accuracy it is very sad but also very believable. It does paint his estranged 3rd wife in a fairly poor light -getting Townes to sign over all his publishing rights to her and her at best negligent behaviour and its contribution to his death- and it will be interesting to see how Hardy's account differs from Kruth's version which is endorsed by the Van Zandt family including the estranged wife, Jeanene. Having not read both biogs I can't say which is best but I can and certainly do recommend this book.
I do have one major gripe with the author. After establishing from the beginning of the book that Townes wanted the meaning of his songs to be interpreted by the listener, that they could mean different things to different people (which is what good poetry should do), Hardy goes on to give these readings of the song that border on pompous. He doesn't say, "this is my view of the song," he says "this is what townes was saying when he wrote it," and nine times out of ten this isn't based on anything. The book was well researched, but rarely did townes ever come out and say, "this is what this line means," so i think it is pretty audacious of the author to presume he is the authority on how to read into his lyrics. The book is still worth reading, but whenever the song interpretations came in I would get very annoyed and sometimes have to skip those sections.
There is little written about Townes. There are a few interviews (not many), a few articles (again, not many) and there is John Kruth's patchy, disorganized biography.
This is the one to buy.
Mr Hardy has spent considerable time over the last 10 years or so interviewing many of those closely connected with Townes. His research, also, has been very comprehensive. The book is laid out in an orderly chronological manner, with a lot of information that even avid Townes Van Zandt fans would not have known (me included). Mr Hardy has an excellent free-flowing writing style and he tells the story very well.
The book (270 pages) also has good background notes on sources of comment/interviews and a comprehensive album discography.