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John Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997) was an American singer-songwriter. He wrote numerous songs, such as "Pancho and Lefty", "For the Sake of the Song", "If I Needed You", "Tecumseh Valley", "Tower Song", "Rex's Blues", and "To Live Is to Fly", that are widely considered masterpieces of American songwriting. His musical style has often been described as melancholic and features rich, poetic lyrics. During his early years, Van Zandt was respected for his guitar playing and fingerpicking ability. In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered and popularized Van Zandt's song "Pancho and Lefty", reaching number one on the Billboard country music chart. Much of Van Zandt's life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms and backwoods cabins. For much of the 1970s, he lived in a simple shack without electricity or a telephone. Van Zandt's influence has been cited by countless artists across multiple genres and his music has been recorded or performed by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Merle Haggard, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Counting Crows, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Robert Earl Keen Jr., Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Wade Bowen, Gillian Welch, Richard Buckner, Pat Green, Colter Wall, Jason Isbell, Calvin Russell, Natalie Maines, Jason Molina, Kevin Morby, Stephen Duffy, Doc Watson, The Cowboy Junkies, Frank Turner, Rowland S. Howard, Cave In, Amenra, and Marissa Nadler. He suffered from a series of drug addictions and alcoholism, and was given a psychiatric diagnosis of bipolar disorder. When he was young, the now-discredited insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory.Van Zandt died on New Year's Day 1997 from cardiac arrythmia caused by health problems stemming from years of substance abuse. A revival of interest in Van Zandt blossomed in the 2000s. During the decade, two books, a documentary film (Be Here to Love Me), and numerous magazine articles were written about him. Biography Early life Born in Fort Worth, Texas, into a wealthy family, Van Zandt was a great-great-great-grandson of Isaac Van Zandt (a prominent leader of the Republic of Texas) and a great-great-grand-nephew of Khleber Miller Van Zandt (a major in the Confederate army and one of the founders of Fort Worth).Townes' parents were Harris Williams Van Zandt and Dorothy Townes. He had two siblings, Bill (1949–2009) and Donna (1941–2011). Harris was a corporate lawyer and his career required the family to move several times during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1952, the family relocated from Fort Worth to Midland, Texas for six months before moving to Billings, Montana.At Christmas in 1956, Townes' father gave him a guitar, which he practiced while wandering the countryside. He later told an interviewer that "seeing Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show was the starting point for me becoming a guitar player... I just thought that Elvis had all the money in the world, all the Cadillacs and all the girls, and all he did was play the guitar and sing. That made a big impression on me." In 1958, the family moved to Boulder, Colorado. Van Zandt remembered his time in Colorado fondly and often visited it as an adult. He later referred to Colorado in "My Proud Mountains", "Colorado Girl", and "Snowin' on Raton". Townes was a good student and active in team sports. In grade school, he was found to have a high IQ, and his parents began grooming him to become a lawyer or senator. Fearing that his family would move again, he willingly decided to attend the Shattuck School in Faribault, Minnesota. He received a score of 1170 when he took the SAT in January 1962. His family soon moved to Houston, Texas. In 1962, he enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder, wrote poetry, and listened to records by Lightnin' Hopkins and Hank Williams. In the spring of his second year, his parents flew to Boulder to bring Townes back to Houston, worried about his binge drinking and episodes of depression. They admitted him to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he was diagnosed with manic depression. He received three months of insulin shock therapy, which erased much of his long-term memory. Afterwards, his mother said that her "biggest regret in life was that she had allowed that treatment to occur". In 1965, he was accepted into the University of Houston's pre-law program. Soon after, he attempted to join the Air Force, but was rejected because of a doctor's diagnosis that labelled him "an acute manic-depressive who has made minimal adjustments to life". After Townes' father died in January 1966 at age 52, he quit school and went on the road for the first time having been inspired by his singer-songwriter heroes to pursue a career in playing music. Early musical career In 1965, Van Zandt began playing regular shows at the Jester Lounge in Houston for $10 per night. After the Jester closed, he began to regularly perform (and occasionally live) at Sand Mountain Coffee House. In these Houston clubs, he met fellow musicians Lightnin' Hopkins, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Doc Watson. His repertoire consisted mostly of covers of songs written by Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and others, as well as original novelty songs like "Fraternity Blues." In 1966, Harris Van Zandt had encouraged his son to stop playing covers and write his own songs.At one point around 1967, Van Zandt was roommates with 13th Floor Elevators singer Roky Erickson. Erickson insisted that he join the Elevators on bass, even though he was a guitarist who had never played bass before. He auditioned for Erickson's bandmate Tommy Hall, but Hall rejected him.In 1968, Van Zandt met songwriter Mickey Newbury in a Houston coffee shop. Newbury persuaded Van Zandt to go to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was introduced by Newbury to the man who became his longtime producer, "Cowboy" Jack Clement. Van Zandt cited Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams and such varied artists as Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones, Blind Willie McTell, Tchaikovsky, and Jefferson Airplane as having had a major impact on his music. 1970s The years between 1968 and 1973 proved to be his most prolific era. Van Zandt released six albums during the time period: For the Sake of the Song, Our Mother the Mountain, Townes Van Zandt, Delta Momma Blues, High, Low and In Between, and The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Among the tracks written for these albums were "To Live Is to Fly", "Pancho and Lefty", and "If I Needed You". These songs eventually raised Van Zandt to near-legend status in American and European songwriting circles.In 1972, he recorded tracks for an album with a working title of Seven Come Eleven, which remained unreleased for many years due to a dispute between his manager Kevin Eggers and producer Jack Clement. Eggers either could not or refused to pay for the studio sessions, so Clement erased the master tapes. However, before they were deleted, Eggers snuck into the studio and recorded rough mixes .... Discover the Marissa Dobson popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Marissa Dobson books.

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  • Half Moon Harbor Resort Volume One synopsis, comments

    Half Moon Harbor Resort Volume One

    Marissa Dobson

    Learning To LiveMeg Harper is tired of living in a box created by her overprotective brothers because of her ability to see guardian angels…Jay Wilder a lion shifter so wrapped up ...

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    Learning What Love Is

    Marissa Dobson

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    Clearwater Romance Volume One

    Marissa Dobson

    A raging snowstorm brings two lonely souls together in Winterbloom. Can Chloe help Jordan discover a path through the pain and anger to find love?In Unexpected Forever, Tessa’s lif...

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    Learning to Live

    Marissa Dobson

    Meg Harper is tired of living in a box created by her overprotective brothers because of her ability to see guardian angels…Jay Wilder a lion shifter so wrapped up in the guilt of ...

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    The Surrogate

    Marissa Dobson

    Surrogate pregnancy…Eight months ago Jessi Macis was artificially inseminated as surrogate mother, never imagining it would land her with more than she bargained for. Giving her wo...

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    Marissa Dobson

    What she needs….Prepping Winterbloom for the incoming snowstorm is the only thing on Chloe Frost’s agenda when a stranger comes in from the cold.What he’s looking for…Tortured by t...

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    Small Town Doctor

    Marissa Dobson

    When pediatrician James Macis rushes to the aid of a woman and her child holed up in a cabin in the mountains just outside of Clearwater, he’s uncertain what to think. After spendi...

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    Ravens Legacy

    JN Johnson

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    Christmas Countdown

    Marissa Dobson

    Jasmine Pierce has been burned by her family and by love. Leaving her past behind, she longs for a quiet place to start over and raise her daughter. Upon learning about a grandmoth...

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    Snowy Fate

    Marissa Dobson

    Fate always knows when you’re ready for love.The past is catching up with Aspyn Layton. The father she never knew passed away and she is left to deal with his estate. An unexpected...

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    Unwanted Proposal

    JN Johnson

    Caleb Myers watched as his sister and brotherinlaw, Joshua, drove away from Clearwater for a much needed vacation, leaving him to housesit, and take care of the family business. Th...

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    Losing to Win

    Marissa Dobson

    The war vet…Losing to Win FinalJuan Carlos Marquez lost everything he valued in one fateful Marine mission. Now an amputee, trying to put the pieces of his life back together, and ...

  • A Bitter Reunion synopsis, comments

    A Bitter Reunion

    JN Johnson

    Lilly Myers ran from Clearwater ten years ago to start a new life as a nurse, leaving all of the pain and anguish of her broken heart behind. The last thing she ever wanted was to ...

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    Passionate Tides

    JN Johnson

    After catching her husband in the arms of another woman, Paisley feels like nothing can help her climb out of the depressing hole that had become her life. With the divorce pending...

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    As Fate Would Have It

    Marissa Dobson

    Snowy Fate, Sarah's Fate & Mason's Fate.Snowy FateFate always knows when you’re ready for love.The past is catching up with Aspyn Layton. The father she never knew passed away ...

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    Unexpected Forever

    Marissa Dobson

    Pregnant…The stick turned blue and Tessa Bradley’s world fell apart. But unplanned turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. Add a marriage of convenience to her be...

  • Operation Family synopsis, comments

    Operation Family

    Marissa Dobson

    Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Mac García spent twenty years in the military but had no plans to retire. He didn’t know what his life would be like without the SEALs, and through t...