Be Here to Love Me (Townes Van Zandt cover) 2/365

Beautiful tune by the late Townes Van Zandt. I didn't really know about him until I read an article/interview about the Kings of Leon in the Novembrer 2010 UNCUT magazine and they mentioned their love for him. There was a little box with the main tunes they listened to. So I went on an adventure discovering songs by Townes. The first songs that got to me were "Waiting 'round to Die" and "Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel". I think I tried to learn these, looked them over to see their structure, chord changes etc. I wound up learning "Be Here to Love" and "Pancho and Lefty"(which I'll highlight in a future post). >"Be Here To Love Me" has this great imagery. What I don't really remember is if I read something else that made me focus on this song. Maybe an interview with Norah Jones, since she recorded the song for her second album, Feels Like Home.(here's a link Norah Jones - Be Here to Love Me on youtube) But I'm not sure. The lyrics take you places, beautiful phrases. Here they are. I'll underline some of the ones that just grabbed me.

Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine
though you and I both know it's only the warm glow of  wine
that's got you to feelin' this way but I don't care I want you stay
and hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today

the children are dancin the gamblers are chancing their all
the window's accusing the door of abusing the wall
but who cares what the night watchmen say
the stage has been set for the play
so just hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today

the moon's come and gone but a few stars hold on to the sky
the wind's running free thought it ain't up to me to ask why
but the poet's are demanding their pay
and they've left me with nothing to say
except hold me and tell me you'll be here to love me today

So I fell in love with the song and when I went to NYC in Dec 2010 to record my acoustic album, The Opposite of Now, I recorded it(It's a slower rendition than the one on the video above with steel guitar) and then chose it as the opening track.

The original recording which Townes released on his second album Our Mother, The Mountain dates from 1969. I love the song but unfortunately I think the arrangement leaves a lot to be desired with a flute or something playing all over the song which is a bit distracting. If it had only on small parts of the song. You get used to it but wish it wasn't there.
It's a bit of what happened in the late 60's, late 70's with overblown arrangements or just trying to mix in elements to make the albums more chart friendly for the times, I guess. Basically, a hit or miss situation. When it worked, it worked. But when it didn't, well... You know, the thing is that with an artist like Townes, maybe bare arrangements worked better cause basically it was the man and his guitar with some spare backing on drums and bass, piano.
So maybe production wise,  the songs weren't done justice. Townes Van Zandt was a poet, a troubadour who died young at 52 after abusing drugs and alcohol for a long time. But he lived as he wanted to.

Be Here to Love Me is also the title of a documentary on Townes Van Zandt which I still haven't had the chance to watch except for a few scenes. Here's the opening scene -

Townes is an artist I want to dig deeper into again. Read more about him, listen to him more often.  When I was in NYC recording my album I was so fascinated by the name, I looked on Spotify wondering if there was anyone else named Townes which is how I discovered Justin Townes Earle (His father, Steve Earle knew Townes and has recorded his songs) and his Harlem River Blues and he just happened to be playing Webster Hall that week so I went and caught his show and loved it!  He also did an A Cappella rendition of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" which left me in awe. I've loved that song ever since and don't think I knew of it or its rich history with New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina until I began to research it.Here's JTE singing it in Texas.

So, needless to say, it's an amazing musical ride I've been on just because I read an article on the Kings of Leon which mentioned a, to me, unknown artist named Townes Van Zandt.

2/365 Townes Van Zandt - Be Here to Love Me (originally appeared on the album Our Mother the Mountain in 1969)


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