This is what I’ve been digging lately.
I don’t know much about Townes Van Zandt, but he’s a remarkable talent. The first album is just him and a guitar in a bar in Houston. It’s simple, spectacular songwriting. Some people trash his studio albums as having dated production that Van Zant had little to do with. I still like them though; the strings in Our Mother the Mountain give the songs a Leonard Cohen vibe, and a drum kit and harmonica never hurt anybody. (A studio song example vs. a live song)
Van Zandt was one of those country music sob stories, part of the American tradition. According to his Wikipedia article:
[T]he bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins and on friends’ couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism, and his tendency to tell tall tales. He suffered from manic depression, and attempts to treat it with insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory.