Townes Van Zandt - Kathleen Lyrics

It's plain to see, the sun won't shine today
But I ain't in the mood for sunshine anyway
Maybe I'll go insane
I got to stop the pain
Or maybe I'll go down to see Kathleen.

A swallow comes and tells me of her dreams
She says she'd like to know just what they mean
And I feel like I could die
As I watch her flying by
Ride the north wind down to see Kathleen.

The stars hang high above, the oceans roar
The moon is come to lead me to her door
There's crystal across the sand
And the waves, they take my hand.
And soon I'm gonna see my sweet Kathleen.

Soon I'm gonna see my sweet Kathleen.

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Townes Van Zandt Kathleen Comments
  1. Nathan Edward

    Thanks for posting this one!!
    This is one of the greatest reorderings (versions) of this song! That orchestral sound under-laid behind Townes is just beautiful...

  2. Neven Nekic

    Still spreading the word of Townes, how good he was. Or still is.

  3. Andrew Vetting

    What movie is this?

  4. Talib W. v. Goethe

    Kathleen was his daughter!

  5. Mattias Freund

    Forever and always my favorite Townes song !!

  6. Big Olli

    One of my favorite Van Zandt song. Heart achingly beautiful.

  7. Kass

    Une découverte pour moi , de Calvin Russell je suis arrivée à Townes c'est superbe ! je préfère l'original à la version de Tindersticks , merci Calvin!

  8. Tristezza Lamento Luciano

    Im a Kathleen. Its my first name. Same spelling too

  9. Daniela Spadini

    Enjoyable movie and outstanding music and lyrics, the voice made me goosebumps 💋Thanks so muchdaniela

  10. Marc Jacobs

    ''It's plain to see, the sun won't shine today But I ain't in the mood for sunshine anyway.....'' Could there be an opening of a song more depressing and beautiful? I wonder? Could there? And I listened to at least 5 million songs I guess.... Have a great day!

  11. Tim Shrubb

    Thanks Phil.... Pearls to swine too often in last 30 years...the less tested humans are empty & soulless. Plenty of them post 1980... Let em go

  12. Vito Abbate

    un uomo capace con la sua voce e la sua musica immane di rendere fisica la sensazione di vuoto e morte dell'anima.

  13. David Gregory

    Que dire ??

  14. Snow

    love it ❤

  15. Olsonomics

    cool song...over produced.

  16. KCSunshine

    Why are there so many darn songs about women named Kathleen? No one ever writes songs with my name (Karly).

    Tristezza Lamento Luciano

    my real name is Kathleen. I never noticed all the Kathleen songs until about 7 years ago. there are a lot.

  17. KCSunshine

    It's plain to see the sun won't shine today
    but I aint in the mood for sunshine anyway
    Maybe I'll go insane, I've got to stop the pain
    Or maybe I'll go down to see Kathleen

    Swallow comes and tells me of her dreams
    she says she'd like to know just what they mean.
    I feel like I could die, I just watch her flying by
    Ride the northwest down to see Kathleen

    The stars hang high above the ocean's roar
    The moon has come to lead me to her door
    There's crystal across the sand, the waves they take my hand
    Soon I'm going to see my sweet Kathleen
    Soon I'm going to see my sweet Kathleen

  18. Dua Ryag

    Merveilleux toujours, même quand le temps passe.

  19. Vivid Kothari

    Oh my god! What an artist he was! Just incredible. And the beginning of this song is just too haunting, and I can feel the pain too acutely.

  20. Kathleen Richards


    Tristezza Lamento Luciano

    its my real name. Kathleen Elizabeth

  21. Chuldini

    one of my fav. But aint in the mood for sunshine anyway..... i like the autumm

  22. Joshua Barnett

    whats this video have anything to do with the song?

  23. gregory sullivan

    Good and moody. I think now I will go see Gloria but I must admit not at the behest of a mystical swallow but a phone call. She has narcotics, a fireplace and roast chicken. Thanks.

  24. fluffydcat



    Your parents named you swallow?  Doesn't seem very nice.

  25. eighthavenue

    Great choice...Towne's songs give me chills.  He bleeds thru every one of them. 

  26. Norbit CleaverHook

    Who on earth mixed this.

  27. Darren R

    One of the best songwriters ever and most have never heard of him!


    I was livin in Houston 'bout this time...saw him some, heard his music a lot, and met him a few times...
    I still sit still when his voice is singing his songs, just feeling his music.
    Townes was as his music was, I guess...I'm old now, I went around the planet for a lotta years and met a lotta folks...Townes left a mark and I still remember his face like it was just a few days ago.
    Townes  woulda had something to say if he knew about Youtube and how many fans he has listening to his life in music...this vid has 160,000 views alone.
    And that's a good thing...

  28. S. D.

    The best 20th century American artist. Period.


    I'd say he is the best American poet of that century along with Bob Dylan, but I'm afraid I'm illiterate when it comes to English poetry. I can't help but adore Full rhymes, this man rocks them through an artful lack of metric structure.

  29. tar heel

    amazing, how the film fits the song, nice!

  30. David Garcia

    This song is perfection.

  31. romeopalote

    A girl named Kathleen rejected me. I downloaded this album without being aware of the existence of this song.

    Is so sad, man.

  32. breachborn

    This is a most fantastic video. Today is certainly an auspicious one since I fell
    into the world of Phil Bebbington.
    Thank You.

  33. Brian Reynolds

    Shame that this silly footage was added to this masterpiece by Towns.

  34. pappymcdamnit

    Youre apologizing for a misunderstanding? Are you trying to break the internet? ;)

  35. Emmy Sawvel

    first heard this song on a bootleg cassette tape in the early 80' has always been a favorite. RIP Townes Van Zandt! townlakeangel

  36. Gil nevo

    oh my a youtube argument that ends peacefully and with respect :) special song indeed! :)

  37. padosori9999

    for unspecific reason i dont like name Kathleen lol.. but this is a good song tho.

  38. B Torrance

    @TRoseist you're not the only one... Townes had the best producers... Jack Clements was one of them!!! But none of them seemed to get it... that's why Townes recorded live show records are so important. One man, one song, one guitar. All his records should have been like that. But, regardless, the songs shine through.

  39. Kathleen Kiser

    A new Favorite many thanks for this haunting

  40. csea peru

    I always thought of Kathleen being the dealer

  41. flatonia

    Video doesn't fit the music.

    Brilliant song by TVZ but do yourself a favor and listen to it on Live at the Old Quarter.

  42. znarf541

    Got to be one of the most haunting songs ever written - by a guy who wrote quite a few...

  43. maldoror2007

    Kathleen is really a great song, not only this version, also the 1st one. Maybe the only one of Townes that mentiones the "Ocean". wonderful, so good

  44. err0r

    @terr0rkitten All hail almighty poster for uploading content they didn't even make to You Tube. I, for one, appreciate your dedication...

  45. Kathleen Van Bibber

    i like this song not just because it has my name in it but also because it is good.!!!

  46. Kathleen Van Bibber

    i like this song not just because it has my name in it but also because it is good.

  47. Tadhg64

    @mwadevilg in his own words, his music isn't just sad, it's hopeless....

  48. GriffonKeeper

    Boy, he really bent, held and hit all the right notes in those days. Real character and emotion in his voice. I don't mind the orchestration in this version.

  49. GriffonKeeper

    Boy, he really bent, held and hit all the right notes in those days. Real character and emotion in his voice. I don't mind the orchestration in this version.

  50. BigEvinrude

    @abrighton82 Kathleen stands for unfulfilled longing. She's that which can never be reached--the devil inasmuch as her absence fuels the insanity that drives him toward her in an unending spiral downward. Yeah, she's a bitter doubt.

  51. MrJC7071

    I have the acoustic, no strings, live version by Townes. It may be the darkest tune he ever did, and he did many. This is Townes letting you see into the dark areas of his heart. That same darkness eventually killed him. This version is one of the many attempts to commercialize a real poet. It doesn't work at all. Neither does the video


    I like your comment, mostly. I like the song the way it is, and the video too. Its all good. Wow, your comment was from 7 years ago! How are you MrJC?

    Ei’ríġ Proinsias Dammantaċ Ó Gamhna.

    I've been leery to respond to these old comments but I see you've done it. I'm just starting to listen to Townes now, and I just...I have no words for how good and different he was, and how sad it is that he lived as he did. Actually, that's not true, I have a lot of words on that subject, but I think it's probably more than anyone wants to read.

    On the subject of this actual comment, I'm confused as to why people don't like the video. Seems to fit great from my perspective. The tone of the song seems to imply he should not be going to see Kathleen, and I kind of think that the man in the video, well, he may have gone to see Kathleen, and herself is not happy at that.

    I don't know how commercial it sounds just for having a strings section here, but I am certainly about to look up the guitar-only version, as that sounds very interesting.

  52. TheEndKing

    @mwadevilg: I agree with MOST of the sentiment, but remove 'country', and leave the sentence as what follows. ;)

  53. TheEndKing

    Heh heh...a swallow comes.

  54. gavjjj

    I love TVZ but this song really haunts me for some reason. I guess that goes with the territory. The older I get, the more I listen to him.

  55. Phil Bebbington

    @dantean Thanks for coming back - I didn't take it personally. I only make them for fun. No harm done ;)

  56. Sublime Music Channel

    @terr0rkitten Of course I'm glad you posted it and apologize if I sounded upset. It's not that serious. "Kathleen" is one of my favorite songs from one of the great record releases ever. Again, my apologies for disrespecting the effort you made to wed the song to the footage--which, from the perspective of a couple of months--has a more serious tone to it than I gave it credit for at the time. My bad.

  57. Phil Legg

    i'm in love with cathleen

  58. eweksi

    a true artist, his work is amazing

  59. Christopher Bewley

    agreed... Kathleen is not a specific woman. Probably a combination of many.

  60. Rossm3838

    While the song may have been inspired by a real person, it takes on a life of its own and like all great songs I speaks to people in different ways. When someone says the song is about him he doesn't mean that literaly. I read the song as a contemplation of suicide as well. Its not as overt as "A Song For.." but its there.

  61. jimalda

    I think kathleen is codiene based on his rhyming scheme, minor notes and wordplay

  62. nkvv88

    hmm...maybe, maybe not. I think they add something to the song. I will agree that there is something special when it's just Townes and his guitar though.

  63. Celery Man

    listen to "rake"

  64. unclebobunclebob

    What the heck is with this video?

  65. fsgerm

    I always thought that this was about suicide, I've also read that it was about depression. Does anyone agree that the most POEsque song is "Our Mother the Mountain"?

  66. halfbreedscott

    I thought it was returning back to an old lover ...just for a moment of a cruel world where lovers let you down ...but maybe I am just projecting my own feelings on to the song...its mine though I own this song whenever I hear it the centre of my musical life....r.i.p. M.jackson

  67. Peter Mateer

    dp11issosweet and glynnth give some nice explanations of this hauntingly beautiful song's meanings here.

  68. Dylan Amos

    It's like Poe, ain't it?

  69. glynnth

    I just wonder if Townes ever did any public commentaries, ever explained any of these "mysterious lyrics" of his?

  70. glynnth

    Yeh, he's talking about going to be with her, but the only way he can seem to do that, is by following a little bird's voice, or going down to the ocean, things like that... Seems like Kathleen isn't available, except in some other-worldly dimension..

    Although it could be talking about someone who's "not available", for other reasons. I guess only Townes knows, for sure??

    An eerie song - gives me chills. I like this so much better than some of the "standard country western" music he also does.

  71. Keith Walton

    thats how i read into it . like his days are so troubled hed rather go be with her, even though she is no longer in this world.

  72. glynnth

    So is Kathleen supposed to be like, "deceased", in this song?

    Poet Squatch

    Most people think she refers to codeine.

  73. Kath Farmer

    Hauntingly beatiful - thank you

  74. astroandyborgloh

    Great song, and also check out the Tindersticks Version, very good, too!

  75. bibs5

    i came to hear townes. dug on the vid too. i like oldies.

  76. Phil Bebbington

    Oh dear! Don't people take things seriously. Firstly it's all about the music, if you don't like the footage turn the screen off or look away. Secondly, it's not a personal hygiene short but a short dealing with jealousy and betrayal. Of course I have already answered that once above.
    I assume that you enjoyed the tune and are glad I took the trouble to post it?

  77. Sublime Music Channel

    I'm sure it's not the poster's intent, but this footage trivializes the song. "Kathleen" wasn't a 1950s high personal hygiene short screened in an elementary school auditorium before 1,500 disinterested 11 year-olds. 'Just my opinion.

  78. Kathleen Strapasson

    i'm Kathleen! ;**

  79. Phil Bebbington

    it's a shot movie about jealousy

  80. salrip

    what is the videofootage from?