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To Live's to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt

Overview

At last, the authorized biography of Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), who wrote such unforgettable songs as “Pancho & Lefty” and “If I Needed You.” Born to a wealthy oil family in Ft. Worth, Texas, hounded by alcoholism and depression, Van Zandt pursued a nomadic existence following his muse, whatever the cost to himself, friends, and relatives. Based on exclusive interviews with those close to Van Zandt, including his best friend Guy Clark and colleagues like Steve Earle and John Prine, To Live’s to Fly ...

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Overview

At last, the authorized biography of Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), who wrote such unforgettable songs as “Pancho & Lefty” and “If I Needed You.” Born to a wealthy oil family in Ft. Worth, Texas, hounded by alcoholism and depression, Van Zandt pursued a nomadic existence following his muse, whatever the cost to himself, friends, and relatives. Based on exclusive interviews with those close to Van Zandt, including his best friend Guy Clark and colleagues like Steve Earle and John Prine, To Live’s to Fly captures all the humor, hijinks, poetry, and heartbreak of this revered, genuinely outlaw country artist.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Gate
Kruth is at his best in retelling the story of Van Zandt's final days and hours...Commendable.
Country Standard Time
Excellent...In-depth...Provides an understanding of [Van Zandt] through both his actions and his songs.
Chart
His meticulously researched book adds to the myth surrounding the musician.
The Bookseller
This is the first significant biography.
No Depression
Kruth has written a fine book, a thorough book, rich with vivid truths.
Library Journal

Musician and author Kruth (Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rashaan Roland Kirk) has written the first biography of legendary Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt (1944-97). In his struggle for recognition among a wider public, Van Zandt wrestled for years with depression and alcoholism while writing songs--e.g., "Pancho and Lefty" and "Be Here To Love Me"--that today are revered by the elite of Texas and Nashville songwriters as well as by a cult group of fans. Through access to Van Zandt's friends, family members, and fellow musicians, Kruth provides an intimate and unflinching look at the singer's life, and many of these remembrances are presented as direct, first-person testimonies. Kruth also utilizes other writings, journalistic accounts, and old interviews with the artist as well as his own detailed examinations of the songs and their lyrics. His book will give both longtime fans and those new to Van Zandt's work a dramatic portrait of an American artist. Recommended.
—Jim Collins

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306816048
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2008
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 357,387
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Kruth is a writer, musician, and author of Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rashaan Roland Kirk. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Still Lookin' for You: An Introduction     1
Prologue: The Sun Is Burning Out     5
Where I Lead Me     7
Struck by Lightnin', Touched by Frost     15
The Glint of the Randall Knife     38
Houston Townes     45
Mudd, Gold, and Songs from the Sky     61
Welcome to Gnashville     75
From Goat Hill to Carnegie Hall     87
Weird Scenes Inside a Doll's House     106
New York Townes     111
High, Low, and Low as Low Can Be     124
No Envelope     137
One Swaggerin' Dude     142
Pancho, Lefty, and the Man Who Died Twice     149
The University of Old Quarter     162
7 Come 11     170
Of Bibles, Fiddles, and Mangy Moose     177
Boondock Rhapsody     188
Trailer Park Love     206
The Phantom Harpsichordist and a Boy Named Taco     216
Through a Shot Glass Darkly     224
A Far Cry from Drunk     241
Smacked Out in the Saddle     247
Ultramarine     250
Last Call Y'all     259
The Glorious Train Wreck (Including the Blaze Foley Detour)     262
Bayou Self     278
Mourn Me None     290
Postscript: The Road to Dido     297
Bibliography     299
TVZ Selected Discography     304
Acknowledgments     311
Index     313
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