The rediscovered tape of Townes Van Zandt’s November 26, 1969, performance at Carnegie Hall could not have been better titled. Accompanied by his own delicately strummed acoustic guitar, Van Zandt (who had only two albums in release at the time of this label showcase event) spun a beautiful web of folk, blues, and country-influenced original songs made doubly potent by the directness of his plainspoken delivery. The incisive bit of personal reflection that forms the stark, powerful poetry of the odd-titled "Rake" begs closer inspection for its rich subtext. Bittersweet communiqués to lovers past and present come no more vividly rendered than "Like a Summer’s Thursday" and "Second Lover’s Song." Baroque imagery in the midst of a conventional narrative about an elusive lover recalls mid-‘60s Dylan, whereas the high, keening yodel at the song’s abrupt close suddenly summons the ambiance of an old-time country ballad. Van Zandt’s wry sense of humor surfaces most effectively on the jaunty set opener, "Talking KKK Blues," a nice bit of social commentary that honors the Woody Guthrie tradition of employing biting satire to ridicule repugnant ideas loose in the land. Even more provocative is the album’s only cover song and its final cut, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," originally a hit for Johnny Cash in 1964. Van Zandt strips it to the bare bones, his guitar so quiet it sounds muted, his voice strong but somber as he recounts the shameful tale of a Native American hero of the Korean War who was forgotten by his country after the battles ended. It’s a powerful closer by an artist who links Hank Williams and Dylan to the likes of Guy Clark and Steve Earle, but stands on his own as one of the most gifted troubadours of his generation.