A Far Cry From Dead

On New Year's Day, 1997, [B]Townes Van Zandt[/B] died of a heart attack, aged 52....

On New Year’s Day, 1997, Townes Van Zandt died of a heart attack, aged 52. A reclusive, clinically-depressed alcoholic, he’d spent his troubled life writing and recording some of the darkest, most beautiful country music ever made. Although his own records always sold negligibly, his songs were covered by, and were an inspiration to, a list of illustrious artists ranging from the [a]Tindersticks[/a] and [a]Bob Dylan[/a], to Emmylou Harris and The Meat Puppets.

This posthumous collection owes its existence to his wife, Jeanene. A couple of years before his death, Van Zandt had made some scratchy demos on DAT which he told his wife to look after. Six months after his death, she handed these tapes over to producer Eric Paul, who – with a handful of noted country session players – transformed them into ‘A Far Cry From Dead’.

Featuring two new songs (including the wry bleakness of ‘Sanitarium Blues’, sample lyric: “They hose you down, make sure you’re clean… Shoot you full of Thorazine”) and sparse reinterpretations of such classic early material as ‘For The Sake Of The Song’ and ‘Waitin’ Round To Die’, it’s a reminder of just what a great songwriter Van Zandt was. Eerie and overwhelmingly bleak, it tells you all you need to know.