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A Deeper Blue: The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt [Paperback]

Robert Earl Hardy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2010 North Texas Lives of Musicians (Book 1)
Like Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt was the embodiment of that mythic American figure, the troubled troubadour. "A Deeper Blue" traces Van Zandt background as the scion of a prominent Texas family; his troubled early years and his transformation from promising pre-law student to wandering folk singer; his life on the road and the demons that pursued and were pursued by him; the women who loved and inspired him; and, the brilliance and enduring beauty of his songs.

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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 bands in the Washington, D.C. area. He lives in Maryland.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Revelations Here March 5 2014
By David
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Van Zandt was a tragic and talented song writer who made a lot of bad choices that caused him to die early. The big thing, though is how dishonest and unscrupulous people ripped him off for years and years, while his talent was never sufficiently promoted. Interesting and sad all at the same time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just waitin around 2 live or Townes van zandts bio Sept. 24 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Only 1/2 way thru, but will definitely finish b/c so far it's an excellent bio of townes, who was
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
D
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous May 18 2008
By the-ian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent biography. Townes' story is assuredly a sad one but he left a legacy of unparalleled songs. I actually put off finishing the book for almost a month just because I didn't want to read the end...I already knew what happened but it didn't make reading a detailed account of his last days any easier.

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.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Townes biography? Almost certainly. Nov. 16 2008
By A. P. G. Hawkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
To be a fan of Townes Van Zandt is to be a member of a worldwide brotherhood/sisterhood - his extraordinary songs are a source of solace, comfort and guidance to those in on the secret, those who have taken the time to apprehend and understand. His work transcends boundaries of genre, and for all their variable quality, there is something in almost every song, be it a couplet, a characteristic twist of logic, a homily that soothes, a sobering vision of the darkest side of life or a verbal shaft of sunlight for a bleak day, that pulls you up short - not just a songwriter, then, but a poet and a sage. But his extraordinary legacy came at a terrible price, a life of manic extremes that's laid out in definitive and unflinching detail in Hardy's articulate biography. Much is revealed - the unexpected scale of heroin's hold on Townes; the punishing touring schedule undertaken in his final years; the shady machinations of those who professed to have his best interests at heart - and much is implied between the lines. Hardy's analysis of individual songs is one of the book's most valuable assets, steering even the most avid fan toward a song previously overlooked, maybe, or deconstructing a familiar one to reveal hidden elements.
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Written Balanced Biog May 13 2009
By Leven1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I came across this biography while trying to find John Kruth's biog and due to the critisism of Kruth's book I opted for this one. I now have Kruth's but have not read it yet. However, this is a really good read. It is well researched and written in an easy to follow chronological style. It goes into great detail in some periods of Townes' life and although I had read pretty much everything I could find written on the internet prior to reading this there was an awful lot I did not know. I was particularly impressed with the detail around the mid 70s and having watch Heartworn Highways it was good to find the background to those scenes and were and when they were being filmed. I also had no idea how bad Townes heroin addiction was.

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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A deeper blue April 18 2009
By Kevin Petersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent book. Exactly what I was looking for in wanting to know more about townes van zandt, his life, what made him tick. It was meticulously researched and it comes thorugh in the writing. There is plenty of insight and anecdotes. I'd elaborate, but instead I'll just say read it if you're interested.

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.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Townes biography April 13 2008
By Patrick Hurley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Townes Van Zandt (died 1997) was one of the world's greatest songwriters. He is hugely underrated - and many critics will agree that he ranks up there with Bob Dylan.

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.

Highly recommended.
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