Townes Van Zandt: Rake (1969)

 |   |  1 min read

Townes Van Zandt: Rake (1969)

Few of Townes van Zandt's dedicated followers would know that he once played Carnegie Hall in New York, an unlikely venue for a man who later had a reputation as a difficult, morose and poetically gifted singer-songwriter with multiple dependencies.

But at 25 in late '69 he was on a bill at Carnegie Hall with a rock band called Mandrake Memorial and comedian Dick Gregory.

Van Zandt had a couple of albums out at the time but was still under the shadow of Bob Dylan to some extent. He opened with a Dylanesque talking blues about the KKK although his nervousness was evident when he said he was originally going to do a talking blues about Thunderbird wine but changed it to the KKK because . . . "I figure there are more bigots here than winos".

There is an awkward pause and it goes down like a lead wonton with the audience, then he says "Nah, I was just kidding. Some of my best friends are . . ."

He did however unveil this particularly lovely and deep song which appeared on a later album -- and, like Dylan, he could command an audience and, just one man and a guitar, silence them with his lyrics and intensity.

This is taken from the album A Gentle Evening with Townes van Zandt, a recording of the concert which didn't appear until 2002. And there is more about Townes Van Zandt here.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

Earl B. - Feb 13, 2012

It's interesting (and affecting) to listen to "A Gentle Evening..." back-to-back with Townes' "Live at McCabe's" recorded in 1995, a couple of years before he died, and when his voice was pretty much gone. And the nun joke is great!
On a related note, the recent cover of Townes' "Snowin' on Raton" by Gretchen Peters and Tom Russell on "One to the Heart, One to the Head" is well worth checking out.

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Beatles: Love You To (1966)

The Beatles: Love You To (1966)

After having listened through to all George Harrison's solo albums and writing about them, one conclusion is paramount. That for all that his lyrics could sometimes be sermonising, trite, worthy or... > Read more

Stan Freberg: The Old Payola Roll Blues (1960)

Stan Freberg: The Old Payola Roll Blues (1960)

While British commentators congratulate their culture on its history of comedy and satire (Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, David Frost, Peter Cook, Monty Python et al) they conspiciously fail to... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Bushmills, Northern Ireland: The sweet smell of morning

Bushmills, Northern Ireland: The sweet smell of morning

This is how every working week should start: it’s 10am on a Monday and already the aroma of fine Irish whiskey — people around here would say “the finest” — is filling... > Read more

Kunming, China: The song of the stones

Kunming, China: The song of the stones

At one point Lily, our guide from the Yi people -- a prominent ethnic group in this area of southwest China – stops as we visitors negotiate our way through the surreal formations of the... > Read more