Ten undiscovered Townes Van Zandt songs demoed for an early Nashville publishing contract in 1966 remained unheard for thirty-seven years until now. A new CD titled In The Beginning emerges as a revealing prelude to his future work.
For those unfamiliar with Van Zandt, his songwriting style veers between Hank Williams and Bob Dylan. Many musicians such as Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Doc Watson have recorded this legendary troubadour’s songs. Van Zandt died on New Years Day (same day as Hank Williams) in 1997.
Each composition on In The Beginning remains vital to his catalogue as his last recordings. Nine of the ten compositions on this 33-minute album were never recorded again and soon disappeared into Jack Clement’s vault. Two years after recording these initial demos Van Zandt’s first album, For The Sake of The Song, appeared.
Two songs include a band on this collection, but the rest consist of Van Zandt flatpicking guitar and singing his poetry. “Big Country Blues”, “Colorado Bound”, and “Black Jack Mama” epitomize Van Zandt’s stark tales of rambling, gambling, and women. The final track on this essential Van Zandt album, “Black Crow Blues” foretells his final farewell three decades later: “It’s a life worth living but we all gotta die/All your crying can’t do me no good/Just lower me down and say goodbye/Pour in the black Texas mud/Pour in the black Texas mud…”
- James Calemine