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Home Blogs The Arts All Roads Lead to Townes - IF I NEEDED YOU

All Roads Lead to Townes - IF I NEEDED YOU

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ALL ROADS LEAD TO TOWNES - "If I Needed You"


Released in Sept. 1981 by Emmylou Harris on her CIMARRON record. It reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot County Singles chart.

Also recorded by Doc Watson on his THEN AND NOW album, which won a Grammy in 1984 for the Best Ethnic or Traditioinal Folk recording.

My favorite Townes performance of this song is from LIVE AT THE OLD QUARTER - 1973, but my favorite video is from a 1975 live performance (see link below). He's almost happy, which was rare for the man who said there were only two kinds of music - the blues and zippedy-doo-dah.

IF I NEEDED YOU

If I needed you
Would you come to me
Would you come to me
For to ease my pain
If you needed me
I would come to you
I would swim the seas
For to ease your pain

Well the night's forlorn
And the morning's born
And the morning shines
With the lights of love
And you'll miss sunrise
If you close your eyes
And that would break
My heart in two

If I needed you
Would you come to me
Would you come to me
For to ease my pain
If you needed me
I would come to you
I would swim the seas
For to ease your pain

Baby's with me now
Since I showed her how
To lay
Her lilly
Hand in mine
Loop and Lil agree
She's a sight to see
A treasure for
The poor to find

If I needed you
Would you come to me
Would you come to me
For to ease my pain
If you needed me
I would come to you
I would swim the seas
For to ease your pain

In a 1984 video recorded at Cactus Cafe, Townes tells the story of this song. He was staying with Guy and Susanna Clark in Nasvhille. They were all sick with some kind of flu. Add some powerful cough syrup to the mix and you have the perfect storm for some strange dreams. Townes woke up in the middle of the night, wrote the song and went back to sleep.

In the morning, Townes played it for Guy and Susanna, every guitar note perfectly executed.

“I played exactly correct from the dream,” Townes tells the interviewer. “It’s never been changed.”

Loop and Lil were a two parakeets Townes used to carry in his shirt pocket. Legend has it that he was in New York when one of them flew out of a window. The other died of a broken heart shortly thereafter.

Take a few minutes to read the lyrics, then listen to the clips. This is songwriting from a whole other place - with the help of a fair amount of codeine.

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Here’s a clip of a young Emmylou singing the song with the Loop and Lil lyrics changed. One of the highlights of my professional life was to hear Emmylou sing this one in the acoustic set of her show at the Winspear in Dallas.

Here’s an audio of Doc Watson’s cover of the song. Too much production and back beat for my taste.

Here’s one of my favorite clips of Townes ... he’s young, totally in command of his craft, his voice and he's at the height of his superstar folk singer status.

Here’s an audio clip of the song from the movie “Crazy Heart.”  Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his portrayal Bad Blake, a down and out country singer. Many believe the character was loosely based on Townes' nomadic lifestyle.

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Next week - LUNGS

This is the second in a series of blogs inspired by Darrell Scott, the talented singer/songwriter and Nashville musician who wisely said once during an interview several years ago, "All roads lead to Townes." Thank you, Darrell, for the lovely idea.

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