"Here, as in so many other documentaries about troubled musicians, the word genius is casually tossed around. But does every unstable, self-destructive artist defiantly living on the edge qualify for that description? In Van Zandt's case, maybe yes." - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/02/movies/portrait-of-a-problem-child-with-a-songwriters-soul.html?_r=0
Great doc on a songwriter whom I've only heard sporadically (mainly Pancho and Lefty) but has been talked about as a tragic figure. I compared it to Let's Get Lost, the Chet Baker film recently on Mubi. Both had addiction issues that could not be overcome; the main difference is that Van Zandt had a rock-solid family supporting him, while Baker hung with a wilder crowd. But even a good family couldn't save Townes.
Honest and engaging doc; while his music normally isn't my cuppa, there's an almost sad poetic feel to Van Zandt's work that grips you. There are portions during this film that do the same visually; the shot where the old black man weeps is one, the other is at the end (no spoilers here) where Townes throws on a hat that, had it been shot in b&w, would look like a still from one of Dorothea Lange's Depression photos.
well sometimes / i don't know where / this dirty road is taking me / and sometimes i don't even know the reason why / well i guess i'll keep on gambling / lotta booze and lot of ramblin' / it's easier than just to wait around and die. a worthy tribute to who was probably america's finest songwriter.
Van Zandt's music has been in my life from as early as I can remember. As a child to young parents in south Texas in the 70's, the alt-/hippie-country scene was my soundtrack. The music van Zandt's heart made sculpted my idea of home forever. This film is fantastic. It feels as true as his songs.
I'd not heard van Zandt before discovering this documentary. A lonely soul, in interview commenting on a statement that many of his songs are sad, saying "they're not all sad...some are hopeless", seemingly without irony. A slew of known musicians gather to comment on van Zandt's visions, his problems with alcohol and of how he has influenced people. I'll recommend it not only for music fans.