metal talk
instagram Facebook Twitter RSS
metal talk
'Songs Of Townes Van Zandt'
(My Proud Mountain)

Phil Kane

phil kane

Scott Kelly Steve Von Till And Wino Songs Of Townes Van Zandt

Ha! I bet you were not expecting an acoustic album featuring the music of Townes Van Zandt on MetalTalk were you? His music is not going to spin everyone's wheels and 'Songs Of Townes Van Zandt', a tribute to the work of the country cult hero, will more than likely end up being considered just another obscure album that is strictly for connoisseurs. Yet if you persevere, you may find that it has something that is a little bit special; hell, it just might even save your fucking worthless life.

Towns Van Zandt was adored within his circle of outlaw singer-songwriters but his depression, alcoholism and drug dependency overshadowed his genius, contributing to his early death at the young age of 52, in 1997. His sarcastic nature and the dark themes of his work meant he never found favour with Nashville's commercial country scene.

Article continues below...

Yet due to the respect of his peers his songs did gain mass exposure through the work of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. He also influenced many others including Mudhoney, Mark Lanegan, Norah Jones, Lyle Lovett, Ryan Bingham, Tom Morello, Cowboy Junkies, Robert Plant, Neil Young and Steve Earle. In fact, Earle is quoted as saying: "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." Sadly, despite the fervour of the few, Townes Van Zandt never received the recognition he deserved during his lifetime.

Now, Metal heavyweights Scott Kelly (Neurosis, Tribes Of Neurot, Blood And Time, Shrinebuilder and solo), Steve Von Till (Neurosis, Tribes Of Neurot, Culper Ring and solo as Harvestman) and doom maestro Robert Scott 'Wino' Weinrich (War Horse, The Obsessed, Saint Vitus and solo) have teamed up to celebrate the work and influence of Van Zandt. They've even created a new label, My Proud Mountain, specifically for the purpose of ensuring this album sees the light of day.

Each man has contributed three Van Zandt tunes; Wino contributes 'Rake', 'Nothing' and 'A Song For'. Steve Von Till offers us the Van Zandt classic 'If I Needed You', 'The Snake Song' and 'Black Crow Blues'. 'St John, The Gambler', 'Lungs' and 'Tecumseh Valley' come from Scott Kelly.

Drawn from Van Zandt's entire career, the album forgoes his more notable songs ('Waitin' Around To Die', 'To Live Is To Fly', 'No Place To Fall' and 'Pancho And Lefty' for instance) in preference for more obscure material and is better for it. Opener 'If I Needed Someone', probably the best-known song here, pretty much sets you up for what's to come with it's gravely road weary vocal and lone acoustic guitar. The stripped down 'Black Crow Blues', 'Lungs', the funereal 'St John The Gambler' and 'Tecumseh Valley' and the lonely fuzzy guitar embossed 'Snake Song', captivate and haunt; the lap steel crying throughout.

Be warned, country it may be but 'Songs Of Townes Van Zandt' is fucking dark. It is the most stripped back, rawest Americana you'll hear in a long, long time. With minimal add-ons and plug-ins it is a melancholic and striking take on rootsy country folk that is rendered so effectively you can almost smell the unwashed bodies, lost salvation and tired desperation, the spent sex and spilt beer of small town America. The imperfections of the performances, rather than hinder, help coax out the narrative of human frailty and despair.

This is not an album for happy smiley people. It will clear a dinner party faster than a flatulent biker with Ebola. This is an album for those who still wake up screaming like back over there, for those who have watched them put their best friend in the ground, for those who have found their spouse in the naked embrace of someone else: hymns for the wronged, cheated and dispossessed, for the forlorn, the lost and the broken, the damaged and the wasted.

So does this album review belong on MetalTalk? Yes it does and I'll tell you why.

With 'Songs Of Townes Van Zandt' these three Metalheads show how adaptable and flexible rock can be by fusing a Metal attitude to American country folk producing music that oozes power, subtlety and simplicity. Attributes many Metal bands sadly lack despite protestations to the contrary.

Nor is this the first time rockers of one sort or another have turned to their roots for inspiration, thus arguably producing some of their best stuff. Springsteen did it for his Seeger Sessions and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club did it with 'Howl' and even Buck Satan has had a go. All have been rather successful too but none have been quite as visceral as this.

'Songs Of Townes Van Zandt' is an album that works on two levels; one as a collection of tales of a hidden, lost America and the other as an album for those mornings after the night before when you wake to find yourself in a whole new world of heartache and pain where the phrase "gone to rat shit" has taken on a entirely new dimension.

There are two stars on this album; the performances and the songs themselves. There have been very few, if any covers that have done Van Zandt's originals any justice but that has now been remedied with these nine tracks.

So go on, treat yourself, get a copy and enjoy a trip to the dark side.




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



Your Email Address:

Travelling To Wacken From:

Your Telephone Number:

Your Enquiry:


metal talk © All written site content is copyright 2008-2017, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.