Normally this type of song would have the singer saying just the opposite of the sentiments expressed in the previous verse. No matter what charms big cities and foreign locales have to offer, nothing compares to my old home. Well, Van Zandt has no illusions. The wide world has plenty to offer and why in the world would anybody want to go back to living in the back woods after having experienced it? As this song makes obvious, false sentimentality had no place in Van Zandt's world. Others might pretend they would trade civilization for a dirt floor cabin with no running water or electricity, but not him.
However, Van Zandt was more than just irony. He could write and sing songs that would break your heart. "Sad Cinderella", track 11 on disc one, is about facing up to reality after having been treated as something special for no real reason. Whether through beauty, wealth, or popularity individuals are elevated to the status of royalty and then just as suddenly have it all taken away. "When your magazine memory has spun you around/And you realize your lovers were just painted clowns/And outside the window you start hearing the sounds/Where they're building a cross for to burn you".
Sung with no adornment, save for his empathy and compassion, Van Zandt made this song into one of the most beautiful condemnations of what we do to people in our desire for celebrities. What's even more amazing is he wrote this in the early 1970s when celebrity worship was nothing compared to what exists today. It's a bittersweet reminder there are human beings behind the gossip and the headlines. It also shows off Van Zandt's uncanny ability as a songwriter to find those words which cut to the heart of a subject emotionally and intellectually without beating a point into the ground.
While many of the songs on disc two ("The Demos") duplicate those on the first disc, hearing Van Zandt sing them almost unaccompanied save for his guitar (a couple have a second guitar or other basic accompaniment) allows us even more of a chance to appreciate his voice. There's a rawness to his singing that's kind of like an exposed nerve. In fact, some feel so personal it's almost as if you're overhearing a private conversation between Van Zandt and the subject of the song. However, it's not all heartbreak and sorrow as he had a keen eye for the absurd and a wonderfully dry sense of humour.