A Review of To Live’s to Fly by John Kruth

To Live’s to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt by John Kruth A Review by Rickey Pittman

This is the second biography I’ve read of Townes Van Zandt. And though I found many points that overlapped with the previous biography I reviewed (A Deeper Blue), I found To Live’s to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt by John Kruth (Da Capo 2007) an interesting and illuminating read.

The book contains a great section of photos, and the biography is carefully researched.  With 27 chapters and a Postscript, the book has a good structure and if you’re a fan of Townes, the book is a page-turner that is not easy to put down.  The last hours of my day were spent reading it, and the past few nights, I found myself dreaming about Townes Van Zandt and scenes in this book.

The author works hard, and I think successfully, to let us gaze into the life, mind, and heart of the Texas Troubadour. His songs are worked in chronologically and in a way that provide insights not only into Townes, but also into the lives of those who surrounded him.  After reading this book, I realized how little I really knew about the folk singers of Texas and Nashville.

Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine says of this biography: “Townes Van Zandt was an ornery, unpredictable genius, a songwriter whose gift offered him salvation and damnation in equal doses.  In John Kruth he has found a biographer well-suited to his eccentricities and rough edges, a man who understand him and who brings light into his dark places.”

I think this is a good summary of this biography. If you’re a Townes fan, you need to read Kruth’s book. I liked the book so much that I ordered the two CD copy of Live at the Quarter. It will be interesting to see how this book and CD change my own Americana show.