"BE HERE TO LOVE ME - A FILM ABOUT TOWNES VAN ZANDT"......
I don't suppose I could really have asked for a better film about the crazy life & twisted road of TOWNES VAN ZANDT
than this excellent documentary provided. It's so good that I'm going to come out and give it the full 5-star recommendation, even if you've never heard his music -- which, while the number of folks in that camp is slowly dwindling, is still pretty considerable. I'm not even sure why
I clicked with his music so instantly upon hearing it roughly 12-13 years ago. I'd never before fallen in with any sort of folksinger, and since Townes wasn't really country per se -- just an adopted Texan with some country leanings -- the fact that I proceeded to buy up nearly his entire discography after hearing "The Late Great Townes Van Zandt"
(still my favorite
) said something. His music, while often sad, was rarely devastating, and was completely free of cliche. The guy could just flat-out write a great song - sometimes it was sorta funny, sometimes it was mopey, and sometimes it just called for some personal late-night pondering & navel-gazing sessions. Even if you don't dig it, I'd be very surprised if you felt bored or unmoved by this 90-minute portrayal
of an exceptionally complex & hidden individual.
I suppose I half expected filmmaker Margaret Brown
might martyr poor Townes into a caricature, given that his life was marked by alcoholism, depression, and adolescent electroshock therapy. While all were a backdrop to the cinematic story of Townes the man, Brown did us all a service by neither dwelling on nor ignoring his shortcomings & "issues". She lets others tell his story - no narrator -- and while hearing from Guy Clarke, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Kinky Friedman and others is great, the best interviews by a landslide are with his kids & three ex-wives, as they were the ones who've most had to come to terms with who he was in the wake of his 1997 death from heart failure. If you can judge a man by the company he keeps and by his own progeny, I'd have to say you'd judge the issues-laden Van Zandt quite well, as something about his wives & children's rememberances made me unspeakably fond of them personally. I also loved how Brown made sure that all the footage running in loops throughout the film was time- and location-specific, so sprinkled in between the many clipped interviews & footage of Townes live or on camera are quick, grainy loops of 1970s cars driving on 1970s Southwest highways, or sunken-eyed Texans living in trailers and drinking in alleys. It works. Like I said, my first thought exiting the theater was how I was going to tell anyone I knew with half a brain how much they needed to see this documentary, whether they'd heard his fine music or not. Then I remembered that I had this blog, so now I'm telling you too.