Townes Van Zandt (right) and Steve Earl
I’m working on a new CD to be recorded and mixed in my home studio this winter/spring. The songs are all acoustic. Some will be recorded with a single guitar in a single take. If I had to pick a genre for it, I would call it Texas Folk.
My musical taste vary wildly. I like most anything live if it’s done well. The music I favor tends to be rock, R&B, blues, some jazz and some country as well. The songs I’ve chosen for this CD are mine. They’re fingerpicked, many in the Travis-style. People I’ve played for in clubs say my songs are reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt’s. I take that as a great compliment, though it doesn’t surprise me.
Like Van Zandt, I grew up in Houston in the 50s. As children we were both exposed to the same music: pop on KILT and the sensational blues and R&B on KYOK. I fell asleep to radio every night … and still do. I was barely in my teens when folk revival hit the airwaves. I saw Townes, Guy Clark and many others folk musicians at Houston’s Sand Mountain, a coffee house in the Montrose district. I was absolutely floored by what I heard there. The folk themes and tonalities inhabit me still.
As with any fashion most folk songs were uninteresting. Finally the weight of so many bouncy, mediocre pop-folk hits (and the thrill of the British Invasion) killed the movement – or rather pushed it into folk rock, and later country. Many of the enduring folk songs were written and sung by those who raised their voices against social injustice and war. Others were purely personal. Many of my favorites were dark road songs about people who longed for companionship but driven to wander alone. This was Townes Van Zandt’s milieu. To me, the best were
Pancho and Lefty
If I Needed You
To Live Is To Fly
For the Sake of the Song
Waitin’ Round to Die
Nine Pound Hammer
The tradition continued with other fine artists like Steve Earl, John Prine and the late Blaze Foley, to name a few.
My favorites are their story songs. On this CD will be some of mine: The Poet of Santa Fe County, Boys Town, The Door in the Dark, and Gulf of Mexico . To Life is my ballad to a dear old friend as he lay dying in Austin. Like a Stone and Broken Not Beautiful are about the lifelong effects of early trauma. Call is a love song unanswered. Bueno the Roan is about trying to regain the happiness and friendship found in my youth among the mountains of northern New Mexico.