Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
To Live's to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt Paperback – March 4, 2008
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"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." -- Steve Earle
"I think of Townes as the greatest folk song writer that my native state of Texas ever gave birth to. Some of us songwriters are just lyricists, but he was definitely a poet." -- Nanci Griffith
"A fervent tribute to a true legend of American songwriting. John Kruth has tracked the back story of Townes Van Zandt like a manic bloodhound without spoiling the mystery of the man." -- Sam Shepard
About the Author
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As for John Kruth's interview with Guy Clark, well, if only for the, shall we say, blow by blow backbeat and banter, it still makes interesting reading. True, Susanna Clark, and IMO, perhaps one of the very few on this planet who really knew TVZ in depth, gave Kruth the waive-off [Laments Kruth, p. 39, "I had just driven fifteen hours to Nashville from New York and was blown off in a matter of moments." [sic] And then there is Susanna's husband, Guy Clark, who was quite possibly put off by Kruth sporting those NYC "plaid shorts and Doc Marten boots" [p.39 -- Kruth -- and PS, that surname is spelled "Martens" with an 's'], anyway, between the get-up shorts and UK boots and Kruth passing on the welcome drink [causing Guy to do the eye-roll thing] and Kruth well noting Guy's chain-smoking and epithet hurling a la Guy referring to Kruth as a "little Yankee journalist" [sic], well, hey, it's said by some that Guy either takes an immediate liking to you or he doesn't. But then too, the interview did bear fruit, as they say, because Guy put it succinctly in two very memorable sentences AND which I believe TVZ fans [like me] can well relate, to wit: "Townes went for the passion, not a bunch of clever bull****." [...] "What we had in common was to truck no bull**** and applaud craziness." [sic] As for Guy going on about his song, "The Randall Knife", and then Guy allegedly pointing a real knife at Kruth's nose [p. 43], hey, that's Guy Clark! Nahhhh, it had to be Kruth's plaid shorts and Doc Martens boots! And to pass on 'both' alcohol and tobacco! Whew! I mean I still have the tobacco habit from my Army days and when the lectures or the 'look' begins from non smokers, or worse, ex-smokers, I turn a deaf ear and a blind eye just as I would when there is a knock on my door and the person asks me if I've been "saved." Now if someone should relate my comments to Guy who Kruth characterizes as a "burly Buddha" [sic] and "an old time preacher like the guy on the Quaker Oats box" [sic -- p. 44] and Guy demands to know who the Amazon reviewer was who brought that up, tell him you think it was ... Jack Prigg. [!] If I know Guy, he'll laugh it off and that should be the end of it. At worst, I'll appeal to Susanna for a favorable nod to convince Guy that I'm just as much an avid Guy Clark fan as I am TVZ! Thus soothed, perhaps I could convince Guy to release any further audio and/or video he might have from the 70's when the 'gang' met around the table at Guy and Susanna's Nashville digs! Cue "Silent Night" [!] ... and all that.
I think the book covered a lot of ground [especially the so-called 'missing years'] and there were many interviews but, again, consider the subject who is difficult to get a 'read' on because even what Townes said himself is often open to not just interpretation but, alas, the very veracity of the story itself which 'greatly' varies from telling to telling! Witness "Pancho and Lefty" and TVZ's various comments on how he came to write the song. All too often it can become a question of who do you believe! TVZ was a complex guy and not to mention his life-long struggle with very early glue sniffing to the max, depression issues and followed by chronic alcohol and drug abuse. Take a gander at the two DVD's involving TVZ which every TVZ fan should have in their collection, "Heartworn Highways" and "Be Here To Love Me." It's another glimpse at an enigma but perhaps the old horseshoes analogy can come to the fore, you know, and in any attempts to 'analyze' TVZ, close, perhaps even 'very' close ... but no cigar.
I sometimes equate those who attempt to "figure out" TVZ with "Uncle" Seymour Washington [** "Heartworn Highways", 1975, released in 1981], you know, when TVZ says, "Unc, you had a birthday recently .. you were .. 36?" and this bit of facetious banter and humor literally flew over Unc Washington's head as he responded to TVZ in a rather dead-pan manner as if to simply 'correct' TVZ on the age error and tells TVZ matter-of-factly, "79!" In effect, and waxing comparatively, to attempt to talk in definitives concerning TVZ or contemplate the 'why' of those things he said and did is a questionable undertaking. At best, the enigma of TVZ is still as strong as it ever was. When I do his songs on my guitar and even on the piano, I sometimes sense his ghostly presence along with his beloved dog, "Geraldine" [who lived to be 17 years], and he quips, "Are you hip ... put whatever interpretation on the song that you feel fits because even "I" am not sure of its full meaning ... and I wrote the song!"
Those expecting to read the Townes Van Zandt story in typical biography-style will be somewhat disappointed in To Live's to Fly. John Kruth made little effort to portray Van Zandt's life in anything remotely resembling chronological order, relying instead on recollections of Van Zandt intimates to provide details of their personal experiences with him in a way that often has the reader jumping from year-to-year and decade-to-decade in confusion. In fact, because it relies so heavily on page after page of long, detailed quotes, the book reads more like a wake than a biography, a gathering of Van Zandt's old friends who decide to spend the night trading stories about the man they all called friend.
Kruth devotes a substantial portion of his book to reviewing the Van Zandt songbook, a review that leaves the reader with the impression that very few Townes Van Zandt recordings are even listenable due to the incompetence and poor decisions of most of the producers working on his projects. It is doubtful that many fans of Van Zandt's music will agree with Kruth's assessment of the recordings and, in fact, most of Kruth's criticisms will seem strange to those who decide to listen to the music in question while reading the book (as I did). Kruth himself is a musician but the fact that he would have produced Van Zandt's albums differently than they were, in fact, produced adds nothing to the Townes Van Zandt story and his song-by-song criticism of the actual producers soon becomes boring.
This is not a comfortable read because of the way that Kruth jarringly switches between first person narrative and third person narrative at odd times and because he does not always make it clear exactly who it is he is extensively quoting from page to page. Some of the quoted passages run together and it is only well into them that the reader realizes that the speaker has changed from one paragraph to the next. Those geographically familiar with the ground covered in the book will also be irritated by the kind of sloppy fact checking that places the University of Texas in Houston rather than in Austin and mislabels Houston's Interstate 45 as Interstate 35, a designation it picks up somewhere near Dallas.
But despite its numerous flaws, To Live's to Fly has something to offer those who are curious about Townes Van Zandt, the man. The numerous stories told by his friends paint the picture of a generous man with a keen sense of humor, a womanizing gambler and substance abuser who was probably lucky to make it all the way to 52 years of age. Those closest to Van Zandt were generally not surprised by his death, some of them remarking that toward the end they could not help wondering if they were seeing him for the last time each time he walked out the door. The poignant chapter detailing Van Zandt's sudden death at home, and what led up to his final day, is by itself enough to make this book worthwhile. Townes Van Zandt, though, deserves to be remembered for the music he created and left behind rather than for his destructive lifestyle. He will have to wait a while longer for his definitive biography. This is not it.
Originally published at CurledUp.com
Most recent customer reviews
My one complaint would be that Kruth does sometimes put himself too much in...Read more