Be Here to Love Me

Rated NR 2006

Margaret Brown's rich and evocative doc about Townes Van Zandt -- a wealthy Texas boy who huffed glue, was treated like a mental patient, became an outlaw inspiration, and died of a heart attack in 1997 at 52 -- has been sitting around for almost a year. Perhaps Palm Pictures figured it had a tough sell with this languorous and unflinching peek at a singer-songwriter who was, by his own estimation, just waitin' around to die. (This is a man who titled one of his own records The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, for God's sake.) It's as much about mood as music, with testimonials from the likes of Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, and Lyle Lovett. Van Zandt wrote as he lived, harder than most and smarter than all; the only dumb thing he ever did was let himself drown his talents at the bottom of Lake Jack and Coke, which does nothing to diminish the slap of such wrenching, in-your-skin songs as "Pancho & Lefty," "If I Need You," and, yup, "Waiting Around to Die."

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