“if i needed you” – a tale of love and longing

I often rest in the pocket of this song and return to it again and again. I will listen to it repetitively, often crying the first two rounds, until I am lifted, cleansed, released…If you’ve never heard this Townes van Zandt classic (written in 1981), well, prepare for a holy experience. Music is church for many of us anyway, right?

What I’ve collected here are all live recorded versions of the song that I like, and could find on YouTube, with one exception by Jeff Bridges. They vary quite a bit – in tone and sound quality, esp. – but I like that. Doc Watson puts a little giddy-up into it, Emmylou gets all sparkly, and to hear Ricky Skaggs talk about how he and Sharon sang it to each other on their wedding day – my fantasy! – was just kismet (and frankly my fave outside Townes’ own renditions). But feel free to pick and choose. I will say that there is something of an aggregrate effect here though – and I’m really a bit spiritual on this point – so if you want the magic to occur, I encourage the multiple-listenings approach.

Here are the lyrics in case you want to sing along…

If I needed you
Would you come to me,
Would you come to me,
And ease my pain?
If you needed me
I would come to you
I’d swim the seas
For to ease your pain

In the night forlorn
The morning’s born
And the morning shines
With the lights of love
You will miss sunrise
If you close your eyes
That would break
My heart in two

The lady’s with me now
Since I showed her how
To lay her lily
Hand in mine
Loop and lil agree
She’s a sight to see
And a treasure for
The poor to find