This song was written about Townes Van Zandt, one of the greatest songwriters. Unfortunately, his addictions eventually drove him to an early grave. Steve Earle always does a great job on this, but everyone is made better by the addition of Emmylou Harris.
You know I had to post this one. This is one of the songs that forced me to admit to myself that I love country, within certain bounds i.e., bluegrass, classic, and folk/americana tinged country. Most of what they play on country radio these days is lame pop music with steel guitars and fiddles. This song doesn’t quite fall into my world of alt-country/americana/outlaw/bluegrass that I like to think is cool, but it’s one of my favorites nonetheless. The combo of the lyrics, melody, and the strings is so evocative. Sadly, as far as I can tell, Amarillo itself doesn’t really live up to the song.
I didn’t actually drive Rt 66, except when I stopped in Gallup, NM, but I did drive I-40 between Flagstaff and Amarillo which parallels the old 66. Towns like Gallup that used to be tourist oases along the way are now mostly dying, but they’re interesting time capsules of the America that was.