While Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” is not one of his signature songs, it never fails to showcase his incredible knack for songwriting. The moving ballad comes with all the qualities that make a country song renowned.
During a private concert in Houston, Van Zandt gave everyone a brief look at how the song came to life. “It came to me in a dream,” the singer-songwriter said as he introduced the song. At that time, Van Zandt was living in Tennessee with his close friends and fellow country singer-songwriters Guy and Susanna Clark.
Van Zandt went on saying he dreamt he was a folk singer and playing the song that would eventually become “If I Needed You.” When he woke up, he quickly wrote down the lyrics in his dreams and fell back asleep. The next morning, he picked up his guitar and played it through.
Emmylou Harris and Don Williams’ Duet Version
“If I Needed You” was first heard in 1972 when it was included in Townes Van Zandt‘s album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Nine years later, it was covered by country stars Emmylou Harris and Don Williams as a duet. Their version was released as the first single off Harris’ album Cimarron.
While it may have never been intended as a duet, Williams’ flawless baritone and Harris’ soothing folk-country vocal come together magnificently, making one of the dreamiest pairings in the country canon. The duo brought the song to the No. 3 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Several notable artists released their version, as well. This includes Joey + Rory for their 2013 album Made to Last and Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires for a tribute album to Don Williams.
Anyway, make sure you listen to Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” in the video below, the most romantic among Townes Van Zandt songs.
Townes Van Zandt