dir. James Szalapski, 1976
US, 92 mins.
In 1976, producer Graham Leader and director James Szalapski documented the outlaw singer/songwriter scene that extended from Austin and Nashville. Included were then relative unknowns Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and John Hiatt, plus their musical mentors Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Born was Heartworn Highways, a cult classic film among fans of the genre. In the relaxed manner of the handmade documentary, we're given a tour of Townes Van Zandt's backyard, where we see dogs running loose while he is chugging whiskey and shooting guns. Townes picks up a guitar and sings the poignant "Waitin' Around To Die" in his kitchen, an elderly neighbor breaks down in tears. We follow David Allan Coe to the Tennessee State Prison to watch a performance; we see Charlie Daniels on a small stage in front of a crowd of near-riotous fans. A gang of buddies, including Rodney Crowell, gathers around a table at Christmas time to sing and pick guitars, showing us some very early work by Steve Earle. The structure of the film is very loose; at times almost surreal, especially viewed through the fish-eye lens of time. There is no real story to the movie, only the tales which are told in the lives of people who love music and make it not for a living.
Producer Graham Leader will be in attendance for both screenings and will give a Q&A following the film (October 22 & 29).
Programmed by Lauren Brown
Trailer edited by Chris Pressler (Post Up Productions) & Lauren Brown