Hope everyone is safe and sound as we continue through this Pandemic. This is quite a horrible situation and I know everyone is feeling the stress of it in someway, shape or form. Hopefully it will be over before too long!
Now, let's get on to a happier and more positive topic. I am very excited about this post. It is oneof my favorite songwriters of all time; GUY CLARK! This man's name has been mentioned in the same sentence as Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt when talking about master songwriters. He was someone who wrote for himself and didn't really care if his songs were going to fit in the mainstream. He had a persona the size of Texas and all of the up and coming writers wanted to write with him. He had his craft down to an art. He knew how to approach the writing of a song to get the most out of it, and could paint a vivid picture without giving away every detail. He would also let the listener use their imagination as well, so that they could be part of the story. Guy called it "leaving holes." He was a mentor and collaborator to many songwriters and artists for years including Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Chris Stapleton, and many more.
Guy Clark was born in Monahans, Texas, a small West Texas town, on November 6, 1941. He and his family moved to Rockport down along the Gulf of Mexico in 1954, where he graduated high school. It was there in Rockport that Guy really started getting into music. His father's law partner, Lola Bonner, played Spanish style guitar and Guy wanted her to teach him. He went to Mexico, bought a guitar and started learning from Lola. He always said that the first songs he learned how to play weren't even in English.
After graduation, Guy moved to Houston where there was a big Folk music scene going on in the 60's. While living there he met Townes Van Zandt who was another amazing songwriter and famous Texas Troubadour. They quickly became best friends and remained friends for the rest of their lives. Also, while in Houston, Guy met a girl from Oklahoma City named Susanna Talley who he married In 1972. Guy, Susanna, and Townes became extensions of each other, and all lived together in Nashville for quite a while. They had amazing talent and wrote many songs that were recorded by many artists.
The thing that always appealed to me with Guy Clark, was that he had a story for every song. Sometimes the back story could overshadow the songs themselves. He just had a way of painting the pictures that made the listener feel like they were there. This first song I would like to share with y'all is one of his most famous songs... "L.A. Freeway." He wrote this song while he and Susanna were leaving Los Angeles moving to Nashville. He said "If I can just get off of this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught." He wrote it down and now it's a classic. Jerry Jeff Walker put it on his self-titled album in 1982 and made it to 98 on the US Billboard Music Charts. And now... Here is L.A. Freeway by Guy Clark.
The next song I want to talk about is "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train." This was also an early song for Guy. He told the story of a man that lived in his grandmother's hotel in Monahans. This man used to be a wildcatter and would just go out and dig oil wells in Texas. He would tell Guy about all of his adventures, and so Guy eventually wrote this song about him. This is a song that many people have covered, and it made it to #15 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart for the Highwaymen. One of the best versions of this song that doesn't get noticed much is by Mark Chesnutt. Here is that rendition.
Around the same time Guy brought these two jewels out to the world, he had written a song called "Texas Cookin," which he declared was a love song. He said that if he could ever break even, he would move back to Texas. Here is George Strait's cover of this song off of his 2006 album "It Just Comes Natural."
Now Guy Clark being given the title, "A Songwriter's Songwriter" is quite an accomplishment in itself; but he always said "That doesn't pay the bills." I thought this next song was a very well-written song that any songwriter would be proud to write. It even paid the bills when Kenny Chesney heard it and made it the title for his album "Hemingway's Whiskey."
Now everyone knows Willie Nelson. Whether it's for music or marijuana, he's a household name. Here is an instance where Guy Clark combined the two, and wrote a song. Here is "Worry Be Gone" covered by Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney off of Willie's 2007 album "Moment of Forever."
And then there is "Out in the Parkin' Lot", covered by Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson. This is just a really fun song.
Guy lived on his own terms and wrote songs the same way. So many of his songs have valuable lessons. It is obvious he wrote for quality and not quantity. Now I would like to share a few of those with you.
This first one is called "The Randall Knife." It is about his father's knife that Guy took on a boy scout trip. It is poetry behind a beautifully finger-picked melody.
This next song is "Boats to Build." It is a very popular song of Guy's and was covered by Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson. I feel that this song really represents life.
This next song has a really spooky kind of feel and hangs out in the minor key. It is a very cool song that Guy and his guitar player Verlon Thompson wrote together. It is on Guy's album "Some Days you Write the Songs."
I urge everyone to look up Guy Clark and listen to more of his music. The man had so many wonderful songs that I could go on for days listing them. So I will leave you with one more. This happens to be my favorite song of his. Great words to live by, "Spread your arms, hold your breath, and always trust your cape."
Thank you Guy Clark for everything you did for the world of songwriting and music.
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read this. Please continue to check out Guy Clark's music. He was a true artist.