“I think my life will run out before my work does,” singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt predicts in the voice-over that opens this documentary portrait. “I’ve designed it that way.” He wasn’t kidding. When he died of a heart attack in 1997 he’d spent 30 years boozing and courting death (he once jumped off a fourth-floor balcony out of curiosity), yet his profoundly lyrical guitar ballads are revered by Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris. Son of a wealthy Fort Worth family, Van Zandt was subjected to insulin-shock treatment as a boy, which wiped out portions of his memory; in like fashion, filmmaker Margaret Brown leaves much of his personal life wreathed in the smoke of his romantic self-destruction, ceding the narrative to his eloquently hopeless songs. This may not be a solid biography, but it feels true–as Van Zandt sings in “Pancho and Lefty,” his biggest hit, “Nobody heard his dying words, ah but that’s the way it goes.” 99 min. Music Box.