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New Book Honors Townes Van Zandt’s Legacy

Townes Van Zandt

Photo courtesy of Tamara Saviano.

To mark the 15th anniversary of Townes Van Zandt’s New Year’s Day death in 1997, the John and Robin Dickson Series will release I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt. The book, written by Brian T. Atkinson, chronicles the impact that Townes’ lyrics had on fellow and future artists.

“I don’t envision a very long life for myself,” Townes once said. “I think my life will run out before my work does. I’ve designed it that way.” Townes penned such classics as “Pancho and Lefty,” “If I Needed You,” “Tecumseh Valley,” and “Lungs.”

Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett and Lucinda Williams are among more than 40 songwriters interviewed for the book. They analyze Townes’ lyrics and share stories of Townes’ rise and fall. The book also includes insight from younger artists such as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, The Avett Brothers’ Scott Avett, Grace Potter, Josh Ritter and Kasey Chambers, who have all been influenced by Townes’ work.

The book opens with forewards by Van Zandt producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement and longtime road manager Harold F. Eggers, Jr. Each chapter begins with an introduction by Brian Atkinson that provides context and background and links each interviewee.

“Townes is a Christ-like figure in Texas,” Jack Ingram says at the book’s close. “He is the one. He was writing on another plane.” Outlaw country pioneer Ray Wylie Hubbard echoes that statement. “Townes’ reputation is awesome,” he said. “The word ‘poet’ keeps coming to mind. I mean a real poet. When people discover Townes, they’re just enlightened. They’re instant fans. If it were a perfect world, Townes would be as well known as Bob Dylan.”

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