Over the weekend I watched Margaret Brown’s documentary film “Be Here To Love Me” about the brilliant but deeply troubled singer songwriter Townes Van Zandt and was truly taken with his story; a story that so few people…even those who love his songs…have ever known. Touched by his journey…his battle with drug and alcohol addiction, his deep mental anguish, his self imposed solitary confinement, his amazing ability to pen a tune…and disappointed in all the ways he let his children down for the sake of the song, I thought I’d share a bit about him today.
Born in 1944 to an affluent
The reclusive and alcoholic Van Zandt spent an exorbitant amount of time in complete and total solitude seeking solace in music and was inspired by the likes of Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Lightnin’ Hopkins to focus his isolation and emotion into crafting mournful songs for the soul and he did so until he died on January 1, 1997 due to complications arising from a hip surgery. Townes never achieved any commercial success on his own but is revered among his peers as one of the greatest song writers of all time and while he spent his life living on the edge of despair his sorrowful spirit impacted and inspired many of today’s gifted and successful artists like Bonnie Raitt, Ray LaMontagne, Lyle Lovett, Meat Puppets and Cowboy Junkies to carry the torch he lit and continue writing songs that tell tales, break hearts and mend fences. Townes began his career the same way he ended it…humbly, with a drink in his hand. The unassuming and puzzling Van Zandt would surely be surprised to learn that in the years that followed his death there would be 13 posthumous album releases as well as 3 books and 2 films dedicated to dissecting the man and his music. He never expected to live long and in fact states in the film, "I don't envision a very long life for myself. I've kind of designed it that way." but little did he know his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of solitary songwriters forever.
Full of interviews with family, friends as well as Townes himself, for anyone searching for insight into the life and times of the beleaguered genius, this is one movie not to be missed.