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Townes van Zandt:
Breaking even is ending up in Purgatory as far as I can tell. I figure there's heaven, purgatory, hell and the blues. I'm trying to crawl up from the blues, purgatory for me would be... Home Sweet Home!
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If you aren't absolutely amazed by Townes' songwriting, finger picking, and singing, all you have to do is pick up a guitar to realize how difficult it is to do what he's doing. He's actually doing three or four things at once: Plucking a bass line with his thumb, a melody with his remaining fingers, and to top it all off, he sings absolutely hauntingly over this intricate accompaniment.
When Kristofferson called Townes a "songwriter's songwriter," this is made even truer by the fact that most of his biggest fans are musicians, because of his dedication and the perfection he achieves in his songs. It is truly songwriting rocket science. After I discovered Townes, I hardly ever strummed my guitar anymore, but rather try to keep it mostly fingerstyle.
Townes' greatness stemmed from what is the lifeblood of most all great musicians: persistence and dedication (and drugs), at least to his art, if not to the business side of things. Like he said; "You've got to lock yourself in your apartment, take the phone off the hook, and listen to Lightnin' Hopkins for two weeks."
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