Saturday, March 31, 2012

Abandon everything, again. Hit the road.

Very nice essay about/interview with Townes Van Zandt, the songwriter-singer who inspired a generation of Texas songwriters -- including me -- in the LA Review of Books:

On songwriting and inspiration:

Well, sometimes they come from the top — from the roof. Sometimes they come from the floor. Sometimes they come from the window and sometimes the heart. Occasionally from the mind.

On the artist's calling:

But this land is covered with brilliant young and old musicians. What it takes is perseverance, and you have to be lazy. You have to be too lazy to work. When you start, at least, it helps not to have a family, because I started before I had a family. Young men come up to me and say, "I'd really like to do what you do, how shall I go about it?" I say, well you get a guitar or a piano (I prefer a guitar because it's a lot easier to carry than a piano), then you've got to blow off security, money, your family, your loved ones, your home, blow it all off and stay with your guitar somewhere under a bridge and learn how to play it. That's how it goes. That's what I did.

And that discourages a lot of them, 'cause some of them are like, "I have two kids and I work in a gas station. I'm going to save my money and go to Nashville for a week." But that ain't it. And girls, young ladies, occasionally ask me. I say, well first off, you've got to cut all your fingernails on your left hand off. And that stops most of them.

But it ain't easy. I mean, it's not hard; it ain't easy. It's killing me, I know that.

(Yes, I was a guitar player/songwriter when I was a college student in Texas at the same time, the mid 1970s, that TVZ was becoming famous, at least among Texas singer-songwriters. And I did cover some Townes Van Zandt songs -- but everyone did.)

(Post title comes from the English translation of the Visceral Realist manifesto by Roberto Bolaño.)

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