Townes Van Zandt sings about a quest for freedom on the folky “All I Need,” a previously unreleased song from an upcoming posthumous collection, Sky Blue. The archival set is due out March 7th – what would have been the singer-songwriter’s 75th birthday – via TVZ Records and Fat Possum Records.
“Tried everything to set me free,” Van Zandt softly sings on the track over aggressive acoustic strums. “But my chains keep playing tricks on me/And all I need is a place to lay ’em down.”
“All I Need” is one of two unheard songs from the collection, along with “Sky Blue.” The album also features early, raw takes of famous Van Zandt tracks (“Pancho & Lefty,” “Rex’s Blues”), a version of the East Tennessee murder ballad “Hills of Roane County” and covers of songs by Richard Dobson and Tom Paxton.
Zan Vandt tracked the 11 recordings in early 1973 at the Atlanta, Georgia home of the late journalist-musician Bill Hedgepeth, one of his close friends. Van Zandt’s surviving family – his wife and literary executor, Jeanene; and children J.T., Will and Katie Bell – conceived the album project, aiming to illuminate his songwriting process and evolution.
Several reissues have followed Van Zandt’s death in January 1997 at age 52. The most recent, 2013’s Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos, features a similar mixture of covers, in-progression takes and alternate versions.
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Sky Blue Track List
1. “All I Need”
2. “Rex’s Blues”
3. “Hills of Roane County”
4. “Sky Blue”
5. “Forever For Always For Certain”
6. “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues (Smoky Version)”
7. “Pancho and Lefty”
8. “Snake Song”
9. “Silver Ships of Andilar”
10. “Dream Spider”
11. “The Last Thing On My Mind”