In the Beginning …

Townes Van Zandt. | Compadre.


Featuring 10 previously unreleased 1966 recordings, In the Beginning… offers a raw look at the evolution of this remarkable Texan. Townes Van Zandt — the late ballad singer best known for the epic “Pancho and Lefty” — hadn’t fully digested his influences yet: The woeful twang on “Waitin’ for the Day” recalls Hank Williams, while “Black Jack Mama” matches the swagger of a young Bob Dylan. Most striking are his studies of emotional desolation, including “Maryetta’s Song,” a haunting portrait of a woman who “lives for the pain tomorrow will bring.” From the very start, Van Zandt portrayed tormented humanity with rare sensitivity.

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  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.