Hey, y'all!


Townes Van Zandt (1944 - 1997) was a Texas singer-songwriter-poet, whose music has touched a deep chord (pun intended) amongst many of us here at CBN. No, he's not related, except perhaps very distantly, to those other musical Van Zandt boys many of us also love. Townes was hailed, back in 1985 by none other than another gifted songwriter, Steve Earle, as "the greatest songwriter in the world, and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that!" Whether or not you agree with ol' Steve, there is a deep knowledge of the blues, heartache, pain and melancholy in Townes' songs. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, please visit his estate's website to get to know him better (all proceeds go to support his children and his second wife, Jeanene):




Several of us here at CBN (myself, Uncle John, Turtlehead, and maybe some others I haven't seen or heard - I know the owner of Diamondbackguitarshop and beStillroy are also huge fans) have done videos of us playing our versions of Townes' songs, many of which came out nearly 40 years ago. We realized that the CBG may be the perfect instrument on which to reinterpret and breathe new life into Townes' songs. In fact, we've been kicking the idea around in the Comment section of Uncle John's video rendition of "Flying Shoes" for the last coupla weeks (check it out), and came up with the idea for a tribute album, using only CBGs (I know, I know: Townes never played one, to my knowledge, and I and perhaps many others of you learned "Pancho and Lefty" on a 6-stringer, but still...).


So, if you're still with me, we're looking for MP3 submissions from those who play Townes' songs, wanna try 'em on CBG, may have never heard of him but like what they hear - any and all are welcome. His catalogue is pretty deep, so I'd like to lay claim to "If I Needed You" right here, right now! (hmmm. Jesus Jones...nah) ;-) We're also looking for someone willing to create some original cover art. The idea behind this is not to make money. We wouldn't want to charge for these songs or this album. We just wanna get 'em out to the larger CBN audience. As currently envisioned, it would be of a similar nature to the free download Robert Johnson tribute album, or the various CBN Christmas albums. It is not designed to detract from, or compete with, the Blues Album Dan Sleep is currently putting together for CBN, which many of us here are also contributing to. All we ask, like the judges on American Idol, is that you make your submitted TVZ song your own.


For those who are interested, you can add MP3 files using the Attach Files or Upload Files link at the bottom left to this Discussion. Record 'em however y'all feel comfortable: lo-fi, hi-fi, wi-fi, or in-fi, doesn't matter. You can PM me here at CBN for any offline technical or otherwise discussions. I will, eventually, get back to you.



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Turtle's not exactly crazy; he's ambitious. Or maybe crazed with guitaristic ambition?

I'd been ruminating over whether to tackle Mudd and Gold myself, but to be honest, I'm not a good enough fingerpicker, without a lot of practice time I ain't gonna get in the next few months, to even consider it. But I sure would like to have somebody include it on this album, simply because I regard it as one of Townes' best written and played story songs.


So kudos to Th for trying. Give it a go. We'll still be crazy: carazy good.

I've spent the last couple of days listening to Townes on my ipod, and it's been wonderful to revisit some of his classic albums. Thanks, Oily, for the excuse.

I'm thinking I'm going to take a stab at St. John the Gambler, or perhaps Black Jack Mama for a change of pace. I've still got to finish off my new 4 string CBG, as I've only got a couple of tin guitars at the moment (I really have to stop giving away the CBGs I make). So, as soon as I can, I'm going to hit the studio and record one, or both, of those bad boy tunes. (I might even break out the tuba and musical saw)



You're welcome. Boy, I'd also kinda been wondering if anyone wanted to attempt St. John the Gambler. Anything that isn't part of the well-known Townes canon makes this even better.


Gofer it, man. 

I guess we all are a bit crazy around these parts which is why I like it here.  Hell, if Vinyl is going to add some tuba and saw, then I feel like the sane one ;)

You're right Oily, I figured this would be a good challenge.  My fingerpicking needs help as well, so I'm going the flat picking route with this one I think.  I've just about got it figured out.  Being "in the studio" will help too, especially with the lyrics.

Like Vinyl said, thanks for spearheading this.  I needed a goal to get me moving ahead again. 

 Flying Shoes - Townes Van Zandt blues on cigar box guitar - YouTube.mp3 (file://BOLTON-PC/Users/Bolton/Music/Flying%20Shoes%20-%20Townes%20Van%20Zandt%20blues%20on%20cigar%20box%20guitar%20-%20YouTube.mp3)

Flying Shoes - Townes Van Zandt blues on cigar box guitar - YouTube.zip

  It took about 1 minute from the time i uploaded my Townes vid  for you to comment on it. Thanks for the offer  i really would like to send you a song of Townes. The song on the vid is very old but i would put a few new ones together using a  6string  RTZ CBG & CBA. I only build 6stringers right now if thats ok, I just need to know when the deadline is and what song you might want. Townes music is always worth reviving great idea count me in!  


Yeah, I jumped on it! :-) "To Live Is To Fly" is another of my all time TVZ faves, and I'd love to see what you, or anyone, could do with it.

Right now, there's no deadline (Townes would likely approve), as I know some folks (myself include) are finishing up submissions for Dan Sleep's Blues Album, and I don't wanna impact that.

As far as 6-string, 3, 4, doesn't matter; it just has to be a CBG-like build, e.g., homemade, and you get to choose which song or songs you wanna do. I've staked claim to "If I Needed You," but really, if there are several interpretations of the same song, that's OK, too. I don't wanna blow anyone's vibe by being dictatorial. As I said in the wordy preamble, Townes' songs, most of which are 30 - 40 years old, or even more, just seemed to me ripe for reinterpretation through CBGs.

You wanna rock it up, do it. You wanna reggify it, dub to your heart's content. Just make an effort to make the song your own. Do it as soon as you can, but don't stress overmuch. Channel Townes' spirit, then let it fly.

Ideally, it'd be nice to have 12-15 songs for this compilation. Several people have offered to do 2 or more if we don't find enough Townies. Do me a favor, and spread the word amongst the CBG brethren; not everyone reads the front page. And I'm not above a little arm-twisting, either >:-E.

Thanks for joining up!

 The more I think about it  Nothin or Rake solo acoustic seems to be the right thing for me. Like many people I 

never cared much for the studio stuff they put on his music. Townes with a Gibson on the porch is the best way

to hear his songs.  Tecumseh Valley is a thought just need to gather the sadness to make it work.



Nice choices, all. I think Thorstein Henrichsen was gonna try Nothin, but don't let that stop you if you got the jones to do it.

Agree, what they did to his music in the studios in Nashville was just criminal. But, they were also trying, in their strange corporate fashion, to make his songs radio-playable and commercial, as the biz was understood at the time. The fact that he initially went along with it as a young unknown is heartbreaking, in the same way as watching Elvis mug through Col. Parker's "Good for your career, boy!" movies was. Good thing I came to Townes through Live at The Old Quarter. I can still remember picking it up at either Cactus or Warehouse Records on Westheimer at Voss in Houston in 1977, the summer I graduated from high school, about 1 week after buying my first acoustic, when they would still let you spin the disc before buying.

All you gotta do for Tecumseh Valley sadness is read the news on a rainy day, or go to a "retirement home" on a Saturday afternoon, and try and imagine that somebody's wizened grandmother that is, was once 18 with the boys chasing her. Then imagine the guy dozing in the wheelchair by the window was one of the boys she gave over.

Hi everyone. I've done my first TVZ-cover. Hope you like it. I played my new 4-string CBG which is now in the front window of a local tobacco shop. So I have to make a new one... - recorded with the Boss/Roland Micro-BR80 multitracker. So there are three guitars and two voices. I really love the way Townes sings it on the veranda, only his voice and guitar and two friends listening ... Hope you like mine too.


Wow! Just, wow! That's amazing, Thorsten. Now, I'm a little apprehensive about recording my tune.


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