Townes - black and white favorite
My favorite picture of Townes

When I’m interviewing artists about their music, and I ask them about their musical influences, Townes’ name almost always is mentioned. They talk about the magic of “Pancho and Lefty,” or the hit he had with “If I Needed You” and they usually say “Live At The Old Quarter” is their favorite album.

But, every now and then, someone says “Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria” is their favorite and I’m a goner.

Few songs move me like this one. The first time I heard it, I had to stop what I was doing and be still until it was over.

“Every single word works,” said Brian Atkinson of the tune first released in 1968 on Townes’ record, “For The Sake Of A Song.” “There’s never been a more beautiful love song.”

Brian's Book - Townes BlogAtkinson should know. He’s written the book on Townes’ impact. Literally. “I’ll Be Here In The Morning: The Songwriting Legacy Of Townes Van Zandt” (Texas A&M Press – 2011) was released to critical and popular acclaim.

Atkinson, who has written for The Austin American-Statesman, CMT, The New York Times and Texas Monthly, interviewed various artists about Townes’ influence on their work for the book.

“When you create a singular piece of art that no one can be compared to, you immediately know it’s him,” Atkinson said of the song. “It’s poetry without being flowery. The words are just right.”

Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria

Well, the diamonds fades quickly when matched to the face of maria
All the harps they sound empty when she lifts her lips to the sky
The brown of her skin makes her hair seem a soft golden rainfall
That spills from the mountains to the bottomless depths of her eyes

Well, she stands all around me her hands slowly sifting the sunshine
All the laughter that linger down deep ‘neath her smilin’ is free
Well, it spins and it twirls like a hummingbird lost in the morning
And caresses the south wind and silently sails to the sea

Ah, the sculptor stands stricken and the artist he throws away his brushes
When her image comes dancin’ the sun she turns sullen with shame
And the birds they go silent the wind stops his sad mournful singing
When the trees of the forest start gently to whisper’in her name

So as softly she wanders I’ll desperately follow her footsteps
And I’ll chase after shadows that offer a trace of her sight
Ah, they promise eternally that she lays hidden within them
But I find they’ve deceived me and sadly I bid them goodbye

So the serpent slide softly away with these moments of laughter
And the the old washy woman has finish her cleanin’ and gone
But the bamboo hang heavy in the bondage of quicksilver daydreams
And a lonely child longingly looks for a place to belong

“I can’t imagine that Townes knew her,” Atkinson noted. “In my head, she was the chick at the end of the bar.”She must have been so pretty. I mean, harps don’t stop playing because someone kisses the sky.”


Brian Atkinson - For Townes Blog
Brian T. Atkinson

Many thanks to Brian for taking time from his schedule to visit with me about Townes. Look for his quotes to show up down the road.


Click here to listen to “Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria” from the album.

Click here to listen to Steve Earle’s cover on “Townes.”

Click here to listen to Townes’ live performance from the Whole Coffeehouse show at Minnesota University from November of 1973. It’s my favorite. Something special happened when Townes stepped onto the stage. He connected with his audience. Always. When he was “on,” there was no one better.

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