Townes Van Zandt is the anti-John Denver. Both countrified folky types came of age around the same time–the early 70’s–in a wave of singer-songwriters following in the footsteps of Dylan and other 60’s troubadours. But where Denver is ceaselessly sentimental and sunny-optimistic, Van Zandt’s songs are down-spirited and caustic. You can bet who I prefer. I do nurse fond memories of listening to “Take Me Home Country Road” as a cheery ode to rural life–not to mention the Baltimore Orioles 7th inning stretch song “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” However, I will take Van Zandt’s blues-inflected ballads any day of the week. This is a Cormac McCarthy brand of country music. This is proto alt country territory with a clear Johnny Cash stamp.