Texas outlaw country pioneer Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997) would have been 74 years old today. Dubbed a “songwriter’s songwriter” by Kris Kristofferson, Van Zandt’s tunes expertly draw on themes from his troubled existence, and have been covered by artists such as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, and countless others.
Celebrate Van Zandt’s enduring musical influence by taking in this remarkably intimate performance of his timeless outlaw ballad “Pancho and Lefty” from the seminal 1976 documentary Heartworn Highways. Happy birthday, Townes! —Kevin Owens