Townes Van Zandt was, I suppose, a country-folk artist, but primarily he was a songwriter. I know more people who have passed on his music than got hooked because his songs seem ordinary and unremarkable. I felt the same way until I learned to play a few of his songs, and then they began to feel like my songs, like they were coming from me. I’ve spoken to musicians who have had similar experiences with Townes’s music. It takes a while to catch on to it, and then it subtly penetrates and resonates and takes over. “Highway Kind” was the first song that crept up on me like that.
“It’s a shame that it’s not enough. It’s shame that it is a shame.” I rarely listen to Townes Van Zandt these days because he’s unbearably sad most of the time, but I still appreciate him. He led me away from conventional white rock music and got me listening more to music that could be played by one person as opposed to produced in a studio. The calm, quiet water often runs the deepest. Or something like that.