April 16, 2009

shake the dust off of your wings, and the sleep out of your eyes


Yesterday felt like full-on summer crouching outside my door. I even went for a run so hard and lovely that I almost threw up. Awesome. Today is grey and rain just started falling on my office window, little rivulets gathering speed by the minute. I am wishing I didn’t wear open-toed shoes.

But the good thing about this weather is that it needs some pensive tunes to go with it, and I have just the one — the perfect song for this and all grey days. As I previously mentioned, Steve Earle is releasing a full album of covers of songs written by his friend Townes Van Zandt. Townes may be one of the greatest songwriters of the last generation, with so many hidden gems that I am still uncovering.

How about this one?

To Live Is To Fly (Townes Van Zandt) – Steve Earle

We got the sky to talk about
And the earth to lie upon

Days, up and down they come
Like rain on a conga drum
Forget most, remember some
But don’t turn none away
Everything is not enough
And nothin’ is too much to bear

Where you’ve been is good and gone
All you keep is the getting there

Well, to live is to fly
Low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes

The album features appearances from Allison Moorer (she must provide the lovely harmonies on this track), guitarist Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine and recent folkier project The Nightwatchman), and for the first time on one of his dad’s records, Justin Townes Earle. Considering his name, this is a fitting album for Justin to be featured on.

Townes is out May 12th on New West, with a preview EP available now.


  • I first heard this song on a Cowboy Junkies record. It also may have been the first time I had heard of Townes Van Zandt, too. I can’t wait to hear Steve’s version of it.

    Dave Lifton — April 16, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

  • Same here–thank god for that, because I’ve been a huge Townes fan ever since.

    Brian — April 16, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

  • steve covering townes is always moving…and townes is one of my heroes…ironically, one of my favorite albums of his is “Road Songs’ in which townes covers dylan, springsteen, lightning hopkins, joe ely and others…fabulous record.

    james woe — April 17, 2009 @ 4:29 am

  • FYI, Justin Townes Earle’s first appearance on one of his dad’s albums was actually the last cut, a studio cut, on Steve’s “Just an American Boy” live album.

    Monty — April 17, 2009 @ 5:04 am

  • Stunning!That’s a must-get. Thanks for posting.

    Greg — April 17, 2009 @ 7:22 am

  • This is a perfect starter for a sunny weekend in Virginia, even with the rain references in the song. We had torrents of it for 2 days this week so it feels well deserved and the promise of spring is breezing around everywhere today. I still think the Cowboy Junkies version rules, the Black Eyed Man album is perfect from start to finish, wish I had it playing right now. Give me a little of that southern rain…

    Tom — April 17, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  • Townes is one of my all time songwriting icons. I think Steve Earle doing a tribute album is fitting as Townes was his mentor for many years. Listen to the words of any of his songs and it’s like listening to a beautiful story being told

    Mike Gallant — April 17, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  • What a BRILLIANT blog! Wow am I excited to have found you. I’m thoroughly enjoying this song as I comment, and I think I’m about to spend a lot of time discovering new music here.. :)

    pictureeachday — April 18, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  • [...] or how about when one folk rock musician covers another folk rock musician, as Steve Earle has done with the inimitable Townes Van Zandt’s song “To Live is To Fly”? at http://www.fuelfriendsblog.com/2009/04/16/shake-the-dust-off-of-your-wings-and-the-sleep-out-of-your…. [...]

    Under the covers-Folk Rock Recycles! « Found: Folk Rock Freedom. Folk from around the web around the world. — April 28, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  • Looking forward to checking this cd out. Thanks for the heads up! W.

    W — May 3, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
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