Townes Van Zandt To Be Honored With Tribute Album

Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, others taking part in all-star project.

A tribute album to the late Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt will be released September 11 on Free Falls/Pedernales Records. Titled Poet: A Tribute to Townes Van Zandt, the 15-track compilation features singer/songwriters Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark and others.

"Like a lot of the great poets, I think Townes is someone people are going to discover and come to after his death," Free Falls president Bob Freese said. "And I think if you're going to remember Townes and do it right, you really do need to take it to the people who were most impacted by his music — other songwriters and true artists."

J.T. Van Zandt, his son, recorded "My Proud Mountains" for the project. Townes Van Zandt, known for his songs of yearning and loss, wrote "Pancho and Lefty," a #1 country hit for Nelson and Merle Haggard in 1983. Delbert McClinton covers the song on the tribute album.

Other artists on the collection include Nanci Griffith, the Cowboy Junkies, Ray Benson (of Asleep at the Wheel), the Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore), Robert Earl Keen and Pat Haney. Freddy Fletcher produced the set.

A hard-living troubadour, Van Zandt died January 1, 1997 of a heart attack. He was 52.