Late Night OTB – Townes Van Zandt

“Waitin’ Around to Die” from the lengendary Townes Van Zandt, reportedly from 1977’s “Heartworn Highway” documentary:

Memorable Quotes

  • “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.” – Steve Earle.
  • “I think of Townes as the greatest folk song writer that my native state of Texas ever gave birth to. Some of us song writers are just lyricists, but he was definitely a poet.” – Nanci Griffith


James Szalapski’s famous documentary about the rebirth of country music around Austin and Nashville in the mid-70s, featuring Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, John Hiatt, Charlie Daniels, Rodney Crowell and David Allen Coe, amongst numerous others.

When this film about the up and coming “Outlaw” country musicians was made in 1975 it was simply a film about the other side of the genre, but as years have passed almost all of the players in the picture have gone on to be stepping stones in modern music. The film can now lay claim to featuring genuine country music legends at a time when they were young, hungry and relatively unknown. The direction and photography of the film show the artists in their homes, hanging out, playing together and performing for intimate friends, something that gives us a rare insight into the lives of these seminal figures.

Lyrics, courtesy Cowboy music

Artist/Band: Van Zandt Townes
Lyrics for Song: Waiting Around To Die
Lyrics for Album: Legend

Sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me
Sometimes I can’t even see the reason why
I guess I keep on gamblin’, lots of booze and lots of ramblin’
It’s easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

One-time friends I had a ma, I even had a pa
He beat her with a belt once cause she cried
She told him to take care of me, she headed down to Tennessee
It’s easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

I came of age and found a girl in a Tuscaloosa bar
She cleaned me out and hit it on the sly
I tried to kill the pain, I bought some wine and hopped a train
Seemed easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

A friend said he knew where some easy money was
We robbed a man and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me, drug me back to Muskogee
It’s two long years, just a-waitin’ ’round to die

Now I’m out of prison, I got me a friend at last
He don’t steal or cheat or drink or lie
His name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen
Together we’re gonna wait around and die

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.