Synopsis by Mark Deming
The celebrated singer and songwriter Steve Earle once said "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." Earle was hardly the only artist of note who loved Van Zandt's poetic, elliptical songs of love and dashed hopes -- Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, the Cowboy Junkies, and Nanci Griffith are among the many performers who have recorded his work, and he was a key inspiration for much of the Texas singer/songwriter community, including Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Lyle Lovett. However, while Van Zandt was greatly admired by his peers and a small cult of passionate admirers, it was other artists who had hits with his songs, not him, and this gifted but troubled man was haunted by drug and alcohol addiction much of his life. Van Zandt also had difficult relationships with his family and three wives, and at the age of 20, he was given shock treatments which wiped out nearly all of his childhood memories. In the 1990s, Van Zandt's public profile began to grow larger, and he was signed to a major record label for the first time in 1996, but as often happened in his songs, fate stepped in, and Van Zandt died following hip surgery on New Year's Day, 1997. Filmmaker Margaret Brown, a longtime fan of Townes Van Zandt, examines both his life and his art in the documentary Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt, which includes interviews with many of his close friends, family members and collaborators, including Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Shelley, Guy Clark, and many more.
concert-footage, country-music, folk-rock, interview, musician, reflection [thought], rise-to-fame, singer, songwriter