Virtual Cinema | See the Re-release of Beloved Music Documentary “Heartworn Highways” February 1, 2021
During the filming of my 2009 local-music documentary For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair, I collaborated with a number of musicians who had appeared in the 1976 music documentary Heartworn Highways. Because I spent personal time with them, I gained a unique perspective, not only about the artists, but also the times and places from which they emerged.
Before They Called It Americana
Heartworn Highways is more a hodgepodge than an actual film—but it is a glorious hodgepodge that feels like a warm blanket and a cup of hot soup. Travel back to the 1970s and mingle with music royalty like Guy Clark, David Allan Coe, Charlie Daniels, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Gamble Rogers, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Young.
Travelin’ Texas and Nashville
In addition to musical gems and unguarded stories, the film visits Van Zandt, who was living in an Austin trailer with his girlfriend, Cindy, and his dog, Geraldine. This section feels like a home movie—unpolished and honest. Viewers may feel slightly uncomfortable when Van Zandt sings “Waiting Around to Die” because there are tears, and they are real.
“That Old Time Feeling”
My favorite section is a Christmas party at Guy and Susanna Clark’s home in Nashville with Rodney Crowell, Richard Dobson, Steve Earle, Jim McGuire, Steve Young, and others sitting around the big table and singing songs like “Silent Night.” You can almost taste the whiskey. The feeling one gets after watching Heartworn Highways is reminiscent of Guy Clark tunes like “That Old Time Feeling” or “Old Friends” (“they shine like diamonds”). I wish we could go back in time and be there with them in that room again.
About the Author
Bruce Bryant is a veteran Houston filmmaker. Among his projects are For the Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: A Texas Ramble.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.