Rating: Not Rated
Townes van Zandt as Himself
Steve Earle as Himself
Emmylou Harris as Herself
Kris Kristofferson as Himself
Willie Nelson as Himself
Commentary by director Margaret Brown, cinematographer Lee Daniel and musician Joe Ely
Rare and intimate performances by Townes Van Zandt, JT Van Zandt, Devendra Bahhart and more
Exclusive in-depth interviews with featured artists
Running Time: 100 Minutes
This film was originally released in 2005. The following text is from the DVD cover:
“As a musician, Townes Van Zandt was legendary — perhaps one of the greatest who ever lived, inspiring artists from Bob Dylan to Norah Jones to Steve Earle. As a man, a husband, and a father his life was as tragic and as beautiful as the songs he wrote. Townes was an enigma to his family, pinned between a deep longing for home and the nomadic lifestyle that was necessary for his livelihood.
Director Margaret Brown’s Be Here To Love Me is an artful, expertly directed portrait of these conflicting sides of Van Zandt, and presents an insightful look at the sacrifices, challenges, and consequences faced in pursuit of a dream.
Townes, whose lyrics resonate with such sad beauty, has become widely respected as one of the greatest American musicians of his, or any, generation. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard had a #1 country hit with his song “Pancho & Lefty,” and Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett continue to cover his songs live.
Haunting and lyrical, Be Here To Love Me combines emotional interviews with friends and family with never seen footage of Townes Van Zandt; from rare performance and interview footage to intimate portraits shot in Van Zandt’s own home. Featuring respected artists Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Guy Clark, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Cowboy Junkies and more.”
Be Here to Love Me is not rated.
I had never heard of Townes Van Zandt before seeing this documentary. As it started up, I was interested to find out that he was from here in Texas, and in fact from here in Houston where CS is based. I was also interested in the fact that he wrote folk music and knew a lot of famous musicians that I liked. However, the more I learned about the guy, the less I respected him and the less I was into this documentary.
Foremost, I didn’t care for his music. I had never heard any of his top hits and the bits of music that the documentary played all sounded more or less alike to me. They were nice little bits of poetry, but utterly forgettable. But Van Zandt’s life gave me even less to like about him. He was a drug addict and a manic depressive. He tells stories in archival footage about how he inhaled model glue and how he shot up with heroin. He also tells stories about how he left his family in a selfish pursuit of his music. Van Zandt wasn’t just screwed up, but he left a string of hurt wives, kids, and family members behind him. Contrast that with a bunch of aging hippies and musicians reminiscing about the drug fueled good old days and you realize how many lives were wasted in this story.
As for the documentary itself, it is technically very well done. It features enough of his musical performances, both public and private, to give even newbies a taste of his songwriting talents. There’s also a ton of interviews with very well known musicians such as Wille Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Joe Ely, and others. It is contrasted with interviews with Van Zandt’s wives, childhood friends, family members, and others. The whole documentary is filled with footage from family home videos and rare public appearances. It’s all very thorough and very well put together.
This documentary is really for fans of folk music and fans of Townes Van Zandt. Anyone interested in music history may also enjoy it because it seems to be a portrait of a typical life of a musician from the 60’s and 70’s.
There’s also a good selection of bonus features included on this DVD. You have your standard commentary with the director, cinematographer, and Joe Ely. There are also a lot of extra musical performances by Van Zandt and other musicians. Finally, there’s extra footage from the interviews with the big musical stars.