Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2004) - Synopsis
The ultimate songwriter’s songwriter, Townes Van Zandt had a profound impact on generations of musicians from Bob Dylan to Norah Jones, yet he
avoided the commercial success enjoyed by many of his own fans. Billy Joe Shaver calmly stated As far as I was concerned, he was the best
songwriter that ever lived. And that’s it. Lucinda Williams called him Too Cool to be Forgotten. And Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and
Emmylou Harris have had #1 hits with his songs.
Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt provides an intimate portrait of the legendary
artist’s haunting music and life. Although a native Texan, Van Zandt always viewed himself as a traveler. His father, a wealthy oil man, moved the
family constantly Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, among other places which accounted for Townes’ ongoing sense of restlessness. But a more
tragic influence on Towne’s music came later in his life. Van Zandt, labeled as a problem child from the get-go, was given shock therapy in his
early 20’s after he fell backward from a four-story window just to see what it felt like. This treatment burned out all of his memories of
childhood and made it difficult for him to connect to those around him for any length of time. Arguably it was this disconnect from the sources
of his most deeply-held emotions that gave his songs their melancholy, redemptive power.
Despite his warm, dusty-sweet voice, as a singer Van Zandt never had anything resembling a hit in his nearly 30-year recording career he had a hard
enough time simply keeping his records in print. But since Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had a #1 country hit with Pancho & Lefty he has become
widely respected and admired as one of the greatest country and folk artists of his generation. The long list of contemporary singers who've covered
his songs includes Mudhoney, Counting Crows, Evan Dando, Gillian Welch, Cowboy Junkies and Norah Jones. And the effect of his songwriting can be
felt in the work of other contemporary artists from The White Stripes to Beck. Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth says about Townes, He’s not really a
country singer, you wouldn’t call him a blues artist, he’s not quite a folk singer, he doesn’t exactly write pop songs, so what is he? He does not
fit neatly into a category and to me, that is what sets him apart as a great artist.
Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Jerry Jeff Walker all acknowledge how Van Zandt’s songs made
them rethink their own writing. Steve Earle declared " Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's
coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that!" Which would come as little surprise to Dylan, who often covers Pancho and Lefty in concert and is a
great admirer of the man and his music. Director, Margaret Brown focuses on the decision to live his life for his art to blow everything off… get a
guitar and go! Her haunting and lyrical film, Be Here To Love Me combines interviews with friends and family with never seen footage of Townes Van
Zandt, from rare performance and interview footage to intimate portraits shot in Van Zandt’s own home throughout the years. It also includes
appearances by many famous musicians, including Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris.