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Season 2 Episode 21 // HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS (Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle...) -

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Today is another episode of our summer special series recorded at the Pioneertown Film Festival back on Memorial day. I’m not going to lie, this was my favorite encounter of the festival because Graham Leader, my guest today, is the producer of a very important movie. Not just for me, but for a lot of musicians and fans of music around the world. In the late 70’s, along with filmmaker James Szalapsky, he followed then-unknown artists who grew on to become legends in what we call the "Outlaw Country" world. Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle are probably the most famous artists featured in the film. They were literally the misfits of Nashville music, they were not into Mainstream Nashville Country, they had something different to say and another music to showcase. Something real. At the time, the film did not do well at the box office. Because it didn't have any famous names attached to it, they had difficulty distributing it. To find a niche audience, the film had to wait until DVDs and Youtube appeared. And that’s how I discovered it in the 2000’s, through a Youtube clip. One scene in particular got me. It’s a scene with Townes Van Zandt playing "Waitin' around to die". If you don’t know the movie or any of those musicians, go check it now. I’m sure you’ll want to see the whole movie after that. Because in the end, it’s not just about music. Those people featured in the documentary, they touch heart. Almost an ethnographic document, Heartworn Highways portrays first and foremost an atypical, maybe a little dysfunctional, musical community, but with strong social values.

Graham Leader (Heartworn Highways) at the Pioneertown Motel. By Vincent Walter Jacob

Graham Leader (Heartworn Highways) at the Pioneertown Motel. By Vincent Walter Jacob

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