Over the weekend I listened to the Leonard Cohen Silly Hat Club Band London concert. He's okay, but compared to Townes Van Zandt his songs are like little lightweight ditties. I have posted a few too many songs by Townes, so here's a little background. Townes was born into Texas money and privilege. For instance, east of Dallas lays Van Zandt County - he was old money. As with so many of the upper classes he was sent away to a private school, in his case Shaddock School in Minnesota. While there he began abusing drugs. After school it became more of a problem, probably self medicating his manic/depression. His parents eventually checked him into a mental hospital in Texas where he got state of the art treatment. He was submitted to insulin shock therapy. Unfortunately this had a small side affect. It erased a major piece of his memory, including all of his visual childhood memories. He came out a severely damaged human being, but it did leave him with his intellect intact. Throughout his life he suffered from depression and night terrors. When he writes "hold me" and "help me make it through the night" it's a literal request. Money or selling records never seemed to enter his conscientiousness. For years he didn't have a home or possessions other than a guitar, preferring to drink, travel and live with friends. His increasing consumption of drugs and alcohol affected his songwriting and eventually killed him at the age of 52, leaving behind ex-wives and three children. He lived a life filled with anguish, but his pain can be a beautiful thing to listen to.
This is 1 of 10 of a documentary of Townes's life. The whole thing is posted on YouTube if you're a glutten for punishment. It's well done, but brutally hard. To live is to fly.