I admit it: Seeing as how it’s been stupid hot with 100% humidity, I’ve done sweet fuck all this week aside from pound back the protein, poop, and shovel ice cream into my mouth while lounging around my hotel room in my underpants within inches of the air conditioner. I didn’t visit Woodlawn Lake even once. In fact, my running shoes didn’t even leave my suitcase, however, zero fucks is what I give. So here I am, once again, sitting at the airport with a bellyful of bad Tex Mex and little Townes Van Zandt, namely his debut album ‘For the Sake of the Song‘.
Townes wrote songs with an uncommon grace and poetic clarity, and he sang them with a voice that was at once straightforward, eloquent, and mindful of the arid beauty of his images. A decade after Van Zandt released his first album, there would be dozens of singer/songwriters following his example, but he was a rather unusual commodity when ‘For the Sake of the Song‘ was released in 1968. And truthfully, this isn’t my favorite album in Townes’ catalogue.
The 11 songs on the album are all fin but they still reek of that “new guy trying to find his craft”. Even the popular tunes that would go on to become staples in his live repertoire like ‘(Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria‘ and ‘Tecumseh Valley‘ still have a feeling of a somewhat awkward production as I’m sure producers Jack Clement and Jim Malloy didn’t really know what to do with Van Zandt at the time. They don’t suck mind you, but it wouldn’t be until later albums where they found their stride with the Fort Worth native.
The albums saving grace if you ask me is the humorous ‘Talkin’ Karate Blues’. Basically, it’s a spoken word tune about Van Zandt’s foray into the martial arts…and, it’s fucking hilarious. So much so it has me laughing my ass off here at my gate and I’m probably at a very real risk of having the airport security being called to deal with the nutcase at Gate A2.
Take this example:
“Then a giant jape came through the door
He must have been about seven foot four
And he looked like he’s prone
To easy aggravation
He said, “Lee Hung Chow, ah kee dung”
That’s Japanese for fee fie foo fum
I tried to explain
My entire situation
He said, “Number one course, Yankee, self defense
Two hundred dollars and twenty-five cents”
I said, “What’s the twenty five cents for?”
And he said, “Repairs”