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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Folk > Rock > Country > Singer > Songwriter > Albums > Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt


Picture: B†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: A†††† Program: A



When finally Iím laid to rest in my last eternal repose and the sad funerary decorates the room and black is the color of the day; when the people I knew congregate and the words bubble up and my name goes around I can only hope there isnít anything of necessity to be expressed.In the end the best thing to my mind would be silence because as I see it if people feel the need to say something then those words went unsaid while I was up and around and making the people who care crazy.And that would be terrible.It would speak of things left undone, feelings gone unexpressed; whole worlds unexplored.


The only thing that must happen on that day, the only necessary tribute/remembrance, is someone must play Townes Van Zandtís ďTo Live Is To FlyĒ. That song pretty much says it all.The finest distillation of a life lived I have ever heard.There is nothing sentimental or remotely false about it.Nearly perfect it celebrates this world and the way we move through it.


Won't say I love you, babe,
won't say I need you, babe,
but I'm gonna get you babe
and I will not do you wrong.
Living's mostly wasting time
and I'll waste my share of mine
but it never feels to good,
so let's don't take to long.
You're soft as glass
and I'm a gentle man;
we got the sky to talk about
and the earth to lie upon.

Days, up and down they come
like rain on a congadrum
forget most, remember some
but don't turn none away.
Everything is not enough
and nothin' is to much to bear.
Where you been is good and gone
all you keep is the getting there.


To live is to fly
Low and high,
so shake the dust off of your wings
and the sleep out of your eyes.

Goodbye to all my friends
it's time to go again
think of all the poetry
and the pickin' down the line
I'll miss the system here
the bottom's low
and the treble's clear
But it don't pay to think too much
on things you leave behind.
I will be gone
but it won't be long
I will be a'bringin' back the melodies
and rhythm that I find.

We all got holes to fill
them holes are all that's real.
Some fall on you like a storm,
sometimes you dig your own.
The choice is yours to make,
time is yours to take;
some sail upon/dive into the sea,
some toil upon the stone.

To live is to fly
Low and high,
so shake the dust off of your wings
and the sleep out of your eyes;

shake the dust off of your wings
and the tears out of your eyes.




I first encountered the work of Townes Van Zandt by way of Lyle Lovettís mentioning his own indebtedness to Townes. Immediately I purchased Van Zandtís first record and spent weeks with its never leaving the stereo. It was one of those albums that I had been waiting to find.It was what I felt Bob Dylanís Nashville Skyline should have been: poetic and ornate, like Hank Williams on hallucinogens.I lived inside that record much the way I lived inside my apartment, inside my skin.The record was both an environment and an identity.And when I had to move out of that apartment, the place that had represented my true self, my independence and adulthood; when I packed everything into the back of a van it was Townes that I played.And when I came to unpack my stuff in the place I would have to now live it was Townes again that played and played. I swear I listened to that record nearly twenty times that day.


Townes Van Zandtís music, much like the poetry of Frank OíHara, has come to represent to me the best of what art can express.With nary a word out of place and with no pretension they were able to show the world as a not all the time so terrible a place.That may not sound like much, but to encounter art that can truly convince you of such a philosophy, and not superficially, I mean down to the purest center of yourself, well, thatís nothiní to sneeze at, buddy.


Margaret Brownís documentary, Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, is mournful and so very beautiful. Lyrical in its imagery and yet at no point does Brown attempt to whitewash the difficult truth about Van Zandt: yes he was a brilliant songwriter, probably one of the best to have ever lived, but he was also a real son-of-a-bitch a lot of the time.Self-destructive and capable at all times of lashing out at the ones who loved him best, Townes lived peripatetically making a circuit around the country; never staying in one place too long, never really doing what he should have for his family and friends.Early in the film Townes says that if he really was going to do this thing, write and perform, then he just had to pick up his guitar and light out, leaving everyone else behind.Thatís how the man lived his life.The film ably illustrates the damage this caused both his loved ones and Townes himself.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image looks really good for a documentary film, but shows the kind of care that was put into the making and editing of this film.The Dolby Digital sound is also fine, capturing the music as well as the interviews with surprisingly good clarity.Extras include audio commentary by director Margaret Brown, cinematographer Lee Daniel and musician Joe Ely, exclusive in-depth interviews with featured artists, original theatrical trailer, rare and intimate performances by Townes Van Zandt and others including Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson.


No one who cares about American music should miss seeing this film.



-†† Kristofer Collins



Kristofer Collins is an editor at The New Yinzer and the owner of Desolation Row CDs in Pittsburgh, PA.Visit Desolation Row at www.myspace.com/desolationrowcds for more.


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