As a musician, Townes Van Zandt was legendary ? perhaps one of the greatest who ever lived, inspiring artists from Bob Dylan to Norah Jones to Steve Earle. As a man, a husband, and a father his life was as tragic and as b... more »eautiful as the songs he wrote. Townes was an enigma to his family, pinned between a deep longing for home and the nomadic lifestyle that was necessary for his livelihood. Director Margaret Brown?s Be Here To Love Me is an artful, expertly directed portrait of both of these sides of Van Zandt and ultimately serves as an insightful look at the sacrifices, challenges, and consequences faced in pursuit of a dream. Haunting and lyrical, Be Here To Love Me combines emotional interviews with friends and family with never seen footage of Townes Van Zandt.« less
"I had the date for this DVD's release on my calendar for months. I had read reviews of it's insights, and those combined with all the stories I heard about Townes Van Zandt over the years had me literally counting the days until I could see this documentary. I discovered Townes' music ten years ago, and as someone who plays guitar and writes songs I have always found his music to be some of the most inspiring I have ever heard. For years I have read about his legendary drinking and gambling, so I knew that this would be touched on in the film. However, I was unprepared for the sheer self destructiveness that plagued Townes Van Zandt's life. Even more disturbing to me was the senselessness of it all. I had always wondered what Townes was up to in the years from the late seventies to the late eighties, when his discography suggests that he literally disappeared. This film touches on this but never really answers the question. The film is clear that Townes began a follow up to "The Late Great Townes Van Zandt" which was titled "7 Come 11" (and should have given him the push into superstar status he deserved), and Townes' producer Kevin Eggers acknowledges that he did not release "The Nashville Sessions" until twenty years after it was recorded, but the exact reasons as to why were not made clear. This inexplicable failure to promote Townes Van Zandt's music is something that really bothers me, especially since it seems that he did nothing but begin a downward spiral creatively and personally from that time on. Steve Earle remembered witnessing Townes playing russian roulette on his porch in the late seventies with a .357 Magnum, and expressed his dismay and anger throughout the film at witnessing what was the world's greatest songwriter (and his hero) being so callous about his talent and his life. It seems that these "lost years" contributed to his decline, although one gets the sense that Townes didn't know what he was looking for or what he wanted to achieve. When questioned in an interview about what his goals were, it seems Townes had never thought about it (or didn't have any), and he struggles with the question until he answered that he would like to write a song that no one would understand, including himself. As the film nears it's end, the shocking transformation of Townes into a skeletal alcoholic was especially disturbing to me, as was the obvious deterioration of his guitar skills and voice in the later live footage shown. Although Townes was definitely a complex individual and obviously a very funny man (the bonus interviews have a few stories that really cracked me up), this documentary left me feeling sad. I never realized that all these years of listening to his music had made me care so much about Townes. I guess it goes along with what Steve Earle said in the film, that its always your heroes that let you down. Maybe its because you find out that they are human beings with faults just like everyone else, but Townes Van Zandt had a gift for music that not many possess, and I'm sorry that his demons took him so early."
The Tortured Artist
Smallchief | 04/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Townes Van Zandt was a manic-depressive, an alcoholic, and a great songwriter. He played a guitar and sang his songs, although the best-known versions of the songs are by others: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Emmylou Harris to name a few. The songs "Tecumseh Valley, Poncho and Lefty, If I Needed You, and Waiting Around to to Die" are as good as any you'll find. Steve Earle, another Texas singer/songwriter, said TVZ was the greatest songwriter in the world.
This documentary features TVZ singing many of his songs while we witness his deterioration. He died at age 52 of complications following a broken hip and (probably) an overdose of alcohol. Nobody was suprised. Guy Clark says at his funeral that he "booked this gig 30 years ago." TVZ never made any money nor sold many records, but it's a pretty good guess that people will be singing his songs for the next 100 years. They're that good.
Among the people talking about TVZ in this film are his wives (three), children, and a host of other singers: Kris Kristofferson, Willie, Emmylou, Clark, Earle, and a bunch more. It's a touching and a frightening story. The story of TVZ is a bit like that of Vincent Van Gogh: immensely talented artists --but nobody envies them for their lives.
Breaks your heart
E. Karasik | Washington, DC United States | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Townes is an artist of such huge talent, soul, vision, and charisma, that he can make the rest look trivial by comparison. In this sensitive documentary, one sees about as much of him as anyone who never got to see him perform live will ever experience, and I thank the filmmaker for her outstanding work. It just kills me that I discovered Townes too late; from all accounts when he was at his best he could mesmerize an audience. Yes, he was a tortured soul and hurt pretty much everyone who loved him along the way. But his family and friends make it clear that he tried to fight off his demons, even as he wrote and played songs so gorgeous, spare, and evocative they could draw tears from a stone statue."
"there's purgatory, hell, then the blues..."
Phaede | Cabin John, Maryland USA | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was in Austin in '74-'81 when Townes Van Zandt was already a legendary songwriter, was really cool, but was gradually "losing his voice". I loved his songs and loved listening and dancing to his music. Now I've subsequently found that I really knew nothing about this tremendously talented, fragile songwriter. What a wonderful but crushing experience it was to watch this documentary. Heartbreaking and captivating, Margaret Brown has captured an essence of Townes' songwriting and life that is so personal, so raw and sensitive, that one feels they are personally hanging with him in the "double-wides", the pickups, and the clubs that provided the backdrop for his too, too short life. Wow, what a great flick! (and then check out Townes' live CD - "Live at the Old Quarter, Houston Texas")."
Finally, a potrayal of an oft overlooked songwriting genius
Jason Haywood | Moncton, NB CA | 11/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Townes Van Zandt is revered in the music community for his ability to distill the essence of a song with a deftly picked acoustic guitar and brilliant lyrics that cut to the soul.
This biopic shows all sides of the songwriter; the genius, the alcoholic, the friend, the father, and the troubled soul.
I would highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of Townes and anyone who wants a glimpse into the mind of a true musical visionary."