Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt rarely sounded completely comfortable in the recording studio. Producers and backing musicians only served to complicate his Spartan melancholia. Alone onstage, Van Zandt settled in and delivered a relentless procession of tunes that offer brief bursts of hope amongst the tales of sorrow and dissipation. Van Zandt suffered bouts of clinical depression and drug abuse that further scarred and inspired his life. This collection from the Old Quarter, Houston includes his deadpanned jokes and his greatest hits and is arguably his finest hour. The much–covered “Pancho & Lefty” and “If I Needed You,” the hallucinatory stream-of-consciousness card game of “Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold,” the quiet desperation of “Waiting ‘Round to Die” and the gloriously flat-footed “Two Girls” represent the depth of this much-acclaimed singer-songwriter. His sense of humor pops up for “Fraternity Blues” but it’s the farewell of “Tecumseh Valley,” “To Live Is to Fly” and “Lungs” that have made Van Zandt an American treasure.