Hey, I'm not so much a fan of Townes but I did get in to his song writing through Steve Earle.

I've tried looking for Townes albums but they're pretty hard to come by - do you have any that you would recommend?

From what I've heard of his songs on the Steve Earle cover album, called Townes, I really like his way of writing.
yeah i reckon if your like steve earle there's a good chance you'll like townes van zandt. honestly, i think "live at the old quarter, houston, texas" might be the best place to start even though it is a live album. if that puts you off though, you really can't go wrong with the self titled one. or "the late great townes van zandt". "our mother the mountain" is another good one but the instrumentation kind of divides people.
^brings me to tears

be here to love me is another really good documentary on townes van zandt. i'd recommend it.
Every song I hear from him just absolutely floors me. Flying Shoes, Tower Song, Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold, Rex's Blues, Brother Flower, nearly all of those songs have ad a profound impact upon me.

Townes is not just the master of songwriting (and he is THE master, hands down, imho) he allows us to communicate with ourselves. He is able to put forth human emotion is such a raw and basic form that he acts as a door into our very souls.