Everyone calls Townes Van Zandt "the songwriter's songwriter" which isn't really as big of a compliment as it originally sounds. That quote essentially means that TVZ is the choice person who writes songs of those that write songs themselves. It can work, of course, if you're say Bob Dylan's favourite songwriter then that's pretty cool but if you're the favourite songwriter of some shitheap then, not so much. As an artist, you can't choose who you influence in the same way you can't choose your family. Thems the breaks of being widely known and loved. Kurt Cobain, for example, is probably pretty pleased he offed himself when he did because there's no way he would've wanted to hear Pearl Jam.
Townes Van Zandt - 'Mr Mudd and Mr Gold'
Amigo, lay them raises down...
TVZ isn't a million miles away from the guy featured in yesterday's 'Song of The Day' - Brother Ali. It's a comparison often drawn but when you listen to the top lyricists in the folk/country music game and then the best rap rhymesayers then you've simply got two sets of people that are pretty similar as both are, first and for fantastic storytellers. In 'Mr Mudd & Mr Gold' Townes spins a tale about a card game that twists and turns and personifies at every junction. Quite brilliantly, the lyricism is as spellbinding as trying to follow which hand each person is holding is confusing. Townes's ability as a fingerpicker is also something that cannot be overlooked. Let me tell you now that I got an acoustic guitar for my 15th birthday along with a head full of dreams about sauntering off into the sunset and mesmerising whoever I came across with my magical songs and golden guitar ability. This song was my 'goal' song. The one I was aiming for, the one I wanted to learn above all others. I had a crack at it one Saturday morning and never picked the guitar up again. If anyone wants to take it off my hands they can have it for a fiver. It's at my parents house as I type, covered in sweat and old tears. Townes Van Zandt and his other worldy ability ruined my career. For that, he should be damned and blessed in equal measure.
Now Mudd he checked
and Gold bet all
Mudd he raised
and Gold did call
And his smiled just melted off his face
when Mudd turned over that diamond Ace