I’m sitting at Gate 4 and I’m in rough shape. Whatever prehistoric dino bug I’ve managed to pick up here has literally sapped me of all my energy and will to live. I am so glad to be going home. God help all the people who have to sit beside me on this flight. As per routine, however, I have an album to wallow in by one of my favorite Texan songsmith’s, Townes Van Zandt, ‘Flyin’ Shoes‘.
‘Flyin’ Shoes’, released in 1978, was Van Zandt’s 1st album of original material in five years. Many of the songs that appeared on the album were originally recorded back in 1973 for an album with the working title ‘7 Come 11′. The album was not released, however, due to a dispute between producer Jack Clement and Poppy Records founder Kevin Eggers.
This time around it was recorded at American Studios in Nashville and produced by Chips Moman, who had previously recorded Elvis Presley, Bobby Womack, and had written hits for Waylon Jennings and Aretha Franklin, among others. Moman brought several top session musicians in for the recording, including Gary and Randy Scruggs, Muscle Shoals pianist Spooner Oldham and Irish guitarist Phillip Donnelly, who had worked with the Everly Brothers. The albums title track is the perfect example of these unique and diverse ranges of talent coming together beautifully. It is also interesting to note that Van Zandt himself arrived at the sessions nursing a broken strumming hand from a car wreck. Also, there is a perceptible change in Van Zandt’s vocal delivery, which sounds less animated than on his earlier albums.
The feel here is a balance between folk and country, with Van Zandt’s voice and guitar up front, letting the songs speak for themselves. The tunes are full of heartbreak and hopelessness, making it a great album to put on during, or right after, the breakup of an affair, in my case, just feeling as if you’re knocking on Death’s door. Highlights include the sad album opener ‘Loretta‘, the teary waltz ‘No Place to Fall‘, the Gordon Lightfoot-esque ‘Brother Flower‘, and the spirited cover of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?‘.