Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt

Palm Pictures DVD

Recently, the quality of documentary films has been at an all-time high, with Murderball, Grizzly Man and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room finding critical acclaim and massive audiences. Be Here to Love Me deserves to be regarded in the same lofty circles. Folk and country music artist Townes Van Zandt, who died from a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 53, never found widespread popularity but was highly regarded, Kris Kristofferson notes, as a “a songwriter’s songwriter.” Be Here to Love Me, directed by Margaret Brown, reveals Van Zandt as a complex character who from an early age went against social mores and continued to experiment with his life as much as his art. Substance abuse was omnipresent with Van Zandt, who sniffed model airplane glue and allegedly shot Coca-Cola and whiskey directly into his veins in search of the right high. Once, Van Zandt fell four stories onto his back simply because he was intrigued by the sensation of leaning out over a balcony’s edge into wide-open space. The incident serves as a powerful metaphor for Van Zandt, the artist, who decisively constructed an unencumbered life—forming family ties only to see them stretch and snap when music and wandering the lonesome highways of the Midwest became his life’s necessity.