Townes Van Zandt, Tom Waits and a cold night in Majorca

I hadn’t heard from Tomeu for years but here he was, out of the blue, emailing me from his home on Majorca, asking if I would write something about an event that took place there ten years ago. ‘Darkness on the Edge of Townes’, it was called: a tribute to Townes Van Zandt. Lord knows how but Tomeu had managed to get funding to stage a concert in honour of a dead Texan singer-songwriter on a Balearic island where you could count the people who’d heard of him on two hands. Townes was brilliant, but he was no star –  that’s just the way he liked it – but singer-songwriters revered him. The Spanish musician Nacho Vegas had agreed to perform, and so did some British singer-songwriters that Tomeu had come to know through their performances at the Borderline club in London. Tomeu used to worked there in the box office. In those days I lived in London and I’d go to the Borderline all the time.  Tomeu was always talking about music, and particularly about the one musician he was obsessed with – no, not Townes but Tom Waits.  Tom had never played on Majorca and Tomeu’s ambition was to persuade him to change his mind. He organised an event on the island that became a small annual festival, called ‘Waiting For Waits.’ Everyone who performed had to add a Tom Waits song to their set. It was a great show – I went one year. But Tom never did show up, and Tomeu seems to have given up waiting.

The cold night in Majorca? Well that’s all part of the piece I sent Tomeu – here, in English and Catalan, at the link below, along with Tomeu’s memories. There’s also a photo of me with Waits. I never did meet Townes, although I loved his music – still do. He had already passed on when I wrote that long MOJO article on him at the turn of the millennium. I’ll try and find it and post on my Interviews page some time soon -it’s been way too long since I updated that page, so write and let me know if there are any other interviews of mine you’d like to see.

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