After hearing Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as a child, the modern music I heard (even at 7 or 8) seemed to be missing alot of something that was in abundance on those Country long players. Real Heart.
Townes Van Zandt was devastatingly good. If you really listen to his lyrics, and think about them, he could break your heart 10 times a record. maybe 10 times a side, depending on the album. John Prine, Guy Clark and Hank Williams etc just wrote/write nearly perfect songs almost every time. Regardless of their production or style, the lyrics are golden. Universal. and the emotion is always right there clear on display. they don't phone their shit in. just Good, Good Stuff.
I saw Kristofferson play once and had tears in my eyes when he sang. I thought of all the people he'd played for. that he was friends with Johnny Cash. Johnny mother-fuckin Cash. But mostly they were from the words he was saying and the voice he was saying them with. it's the voice of a man nearly 80, who's seen alot. and wrote about it. just honest as hell. I'd take a hundred bum notes and key slip ups over perfect harmonies everyday when it results in that intensity of emotion. just beautiful.
I got to meet him after that show and it was incredible. He was just gracious and full of class. He was one of The Highwaymen! but he put me right at ease. A great man.
Everyone of the 'greats' has been vulnerable. They're the everyman. Not on any pedestal. They fuck up. alot. and write about it. and we relate. Someone put it perfectly in the comments of a video I watched.
"There was simply no gimmick. Back then guys didn't waste a million acting out in a music video, they didn't sing songs about shit that didn't happen in their own lives, they sure as hell didn't live for top 10 radio and have a career that had a lifespan of a teenage girl's A.D.D
They were real."Darn tootin' they were
I didn't get into Dylan until I was about 15, and when that happened that was a whole other kettle o' fish. that blew apart my mind even more. in the best, best way.