I’m presently doing a bit of music supervision for an independent film, set in west Texas, and have been looking for the right mood for certain scenes. Not so much the exact song that will be accompanying the scene, but more so music that captures the essence of what the the narrative wants/needs/deserves…the nuance of a moment. Townes Van Zandt knew all about nuance.

If you’ve followed Aquarium Drunkard for any length of time, you’re well aware that Townes Van Zandt is a giant around these parts. The emotional depths he reached, and somehow conveyed in his material, is something to truly marvel at. Townes albums have gone in and out of print for years now, so for a long time the sure bet was the Texas Troubadour box set that compiled Van Zandt’s music within the span of four discs. Included within are tracks from Townes self-titled debut, which is home to “Waitin’ Around To Die,” the first tune the songwriter ever penned. Somehow, the album version, with its additional instrumentation manages to sound even darker than the sparse, acoustic version (see below) found on the soundtrack to the documentary Heartworn Highways, which, as Townes fans will attest to, is no small feat. Even the drums in the song’s intro feel restless and forlorn. They also happen to capture the exact feeling I am looking for in the scene.

Related: Heartworn Highways :: Official Soundtrack

MP3: Townes Van Zandt :: Waitin’ Around To Die
MP3: Townes Van Zandt :: Waitin’ Around To Die (acoustic)
Amazon: Townes Van Zandt – Texas Troubadour (Box Set)

+ Download DRM free music music via eMusic’s 25 free MP3 no risk trial offer

11 Responses to “Townes Van Zandt :: Waitin’ Around To Die”

  1. Really enjoyed that, Drunkard. Definitely reminds me of West Texas. I can’t believe that’s the first song he wrote.

  2. Actually, it’s the first *serious* song Townes ever wrote. He wrote several humorous talking blues in the early-to-mid ’60s, but Waitin’ was his first attempt at more serious matters.

  3. A Townes post is always greatly appreciated.

  4. great post about an amazing self-titled record! his then wife says that ‘waitin to die’
    was the first song he wrote a few weeks after their marriage. he converted a walk in
    closet into a makeshift studio. you don’t sense any optimism coming from her as she
    explains having to listen to Townes pen that song as a newlywed… check out the great doc ‘Be Here To Love Me’ if you haven’t already, it’ll bring a grown man to weeping.

  5. Don’t forget to check out Kimmie Rhodes. She’s from those parts and has some fantastic stuff. She played and wrote some with TVZ as well.

  6. i grew up in west texas, elpaso to be exact.
    things that make me think of home:
    jerry jeff walker
    robert earl keen
    los tigeres del norte

  7. I just picked up some of his earlier stuff — a lot of “talking blues” like someone mentioned, but clearly the talent was there. That Heartworn Highway’s version of “Waitin Around To Die” is my favorite, I think.

  8. I went to high school in West Texas. San Angelo. I discovered Townes while I was there and have been listening ever since. I made a record out there two years ago with a friend of mine Graham Weber. Marfa, Alpine, Terlinqua and points in between. It is a special and spooky place.

  9. There’s a live album – don’t remember it off the top of my head. I think it also included Guy Clark. On the album – Townes intros this brilliant song. Said it was about this old guy in Houston, who sat on the porch. Townes used to pass by him every day.

  10. You can still get the “out of print” stuff direct at

  11. i’m currently working my way through the recent TVZ biography. so far so good. so many of the songs are just too depressing for me to even listen to.

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