This week on From the Vault we feature some rare and outstanding live music performed in Pacifica station KPFT’s studios, from one of the great Houston songwriters. Special From the Vault guest host Roark Smith (host of Wide Open Spaces on KPFT) takes us on a musical adventure to celebrate Townes Van Zandt, one of the most important musicians hailing from Texas in the late 60’s and 70’s, among peers Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, Vince Bell, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Eric Taylor.
Townes Van Zandt was as tragic a figure as he was talented. In the early 1960’s, he was diagnosed as manic depressive and underwent a controversial insulin shock therapy procedure which erased much of his long term memory. Van Zandt subsequently fought a continuous battle with substance abuse with alcohol and narcotics his entire life that ended at the age of 52 in 1997. Although his lifestyle kept him, as he said, “living out of a suitcase and singing for his meals,” Van Zandt’s songwriting remains some of the most beautiful and highly influential to this day.
While living in Houston, Townes Van Zandt made several visits to the one station that appreciated good songwriting, Pacifica Radio KPFT 90.1 FM. In this episode of From the Vault, we’ll listen to classic sets recorded at KPFT in 1972 and 1973, which includes some of his most well-known songs like “Pancho and Lefty” and “To Live is Fly.”
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.
PURCHASE a copy of this program or learn more about the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.