GUY CLARK DEATH OF AN ICON AND MENTOR TO CATHERINE BRITT
Daddy had a chance to go take a factory job in Ohio/ they offered him a decent dime to leave Kentucky far behind/ I cussed him when he turned them down/ to stand and farm tobacco ground/ tobacco growing ain't no life/ for seven kids and a poor man's wife. - Poor Man's Pride - Catherine Britt-Guy Clark-Jerry Salley.
When Texan troubadour Guy Clark died of lymphatic cancer at 74 on May 17 his death was felt deeply in Newcastle and the hallowed halls of the Melbourne judiciary and at top rating radio station 3AW.
Clark, famed as a mentor to younger peers, wrote a song with Catherine Britt in 2003 when she arrived in Nashville as an 18-year-old after cutting her debut EP here with Bill Chambers.
Britt, now 31, included Poor Man's Pride that also featured Jerry Salley as a co-writer on her 2006 album Too Far Gone produced by Keith Stegall and Chambers.
We featured the video for Poor Man's Pride on Nu Country TV Series #4 finale episode on October 1, 2005.
"I'm not afraid to say when somebody's written more than the others, and Guy Clark had a big hand in this song," Britt revealed.
Britt and Stapleton co-wrote their song Lonely - one of the highlights of her self-titled album that featured three collaborations with Tennessean Ashley Monroe.
Britt was just four when Clark made the first of his two Australian tours in 1989 after I interviewed him in Nashville in 1988.
I made the mistake of telling Guy in expat Kiwi promoter-publisher Barry Coburn's Music Row office that I postponed an interview with a better known artist to fit Guy into my busy schedule.
He was not a fan of the star who shall remain nameless.
Guy's 1989 Australian tour was memorable as latter day 3AW breakfast hosts Ross Stevenson and John Burns became avid Clark fans then hosting Lawyers, Guns & Money on 3RRR-FM with Dennis Donohue.
So avid that Ross phoned in his review of Guy's Lancefield Winery concert to our country show High In The Saddle on the Sabbath.
But it didn't stop there the trio and fellow Clark buff Judge John Bowman - hosted a dinner for the singer and promoter Keith Glass with extra chair for this writer at the famed Flower Drum restaurant in the Melbourne CBD.
Clark was bemused when his dinner hosts quoted his lyrics before and after all courses at Gilbert Lau's Flower Drum.
It was only time this son of a dairy farmer beat that drum but Judge Bowman was no stranger to country music he attended another concert by Clark's late Georgian born peer Steve Young at the Camp Hotel in Ballarat while on circuit.
The Lawyers, Guns & Money team also attended Guy's concerts at Paul Madigan's Druids Lodge on the Gaza strip in Brunswick.
Sadly on the eve of Guy's first Madigan's gig on February 2 he learned that his old Texan performing pal Blaze Foley, just 39, had been shot in the chest and murdered by a man named January in Austin the day before.
This necessitated more than a little liquid anaesthetic for Guy from mine host Madigan but the show, as always, went on without a hitch.
Guy was accompanied by his guitarist son Travis on his second Australian tour that included four concerts at the Continental Café in Prahran.
On that tour PBS-FM Acid Country host David Heard interviewed Guy on his Cold Coffee Morning show on Nu Country FM at the station's Beer Can Hill studio in Northcote during his 1995 tour.
Heard failed to elicit if the troubadour had met any tall blonde temptresses from Sleepy Hollow on his sojourn.
FROM WEST TEXAS TO WEST COAST AND NASHVILLE FAME
THE EARLY DAYS
He's a drifter, a driller of oil wells/ he's an old school man of the world/ he taught me how to drive his car when he was too drunk to/ and he'd wink and give me money for the girls/ and our lives was like, some old Western movie/ like desperados waitin' for a train. - Desperados Waitin' For A Train - Guy Clark.
He played guitar and sang folk songs at the Houston Folklore Society, Sand Mountain coffee shop and the Jester Lounge, where he began life-long friendships with fellow songwriters and musicians Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt. K.T Oslin and Jerry Jeff Walker.
He married his first wife, folksinger Susan Spaw, and they had a son Travis in 1966.
In 1969, the marriage ended, Clark moved to San Francisco and again worked in a guitar repair shop.
Within a year, he moved back to Houston where he worked as the art director for a TV station.
Next came a stint in L.A., again working as both a musician and a guitar maker.
His publishing company had an office in Nashville.
Clark landed a job building Dobros at the Dopyera Brothers Original Musical Instruments Co.
He played with a bluegrass band on the weekends and pitched his songs to publishing companies in between.
He signed a publishing deal with Sunbury Dunbar and moved to Nashville in 1971.
Several months later, he married Susanna Talley with Townes Van Zandt as best man.
In that first year in East Nashville, Susanna and Townes wrote Heavenly Houseboat Blues while Clark wrote Desperados Waiting for a Train, L.A. Freeway, and That Old Time Feeling.
Susanna Clark (1939-2012) began writing songs, too.
She broke through before Guy with I'll Be Your San Antone Rose for Dottsy in 1975, Easy From Now On for Emmylou Harris in 1978, Carlene Carter in 1990 and Miranda Lambert in 2007 and Come From the Heart for Kathy Mattea, 1989.
The paintings on the jackets of albums diverse as Willie Nelson's Stardust , Harris's Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, Nanci Griffith's Dust Bowl Symphony and Guy's Old No. 1 are Susanna's.
The Clarks' Nashville home became headquarters for other hard core country outlaws and roots songwriters whom Clark welcomed to Nashville.
Susanna died from complications of lung cancer in 2012.
He inspired Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, David Olney, Richard Dobson, Dave Loggins, David Allan Coe, Mickey Newbury, Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Billy Joe Shaver, Nanci Griffith and many more to make the pilgrimage to Music City
This scene was captured in the documentary film Heartworn Highways.
Shot in 1975, it was released to acclaim in 1981, and preceded 2004 documentary Be Here to Love Me by Rake Films .
Due to ongoing health problems, Clark stopped touring and recording shortly after he was a 2004 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 2005, the Americana Music Association presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Song-writing.
A star-studded tribute album titled This One's for Him won the AMA's Album of the Year honor in 2011.
He earned a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album with his collection My Favourite Picture of You - one of his 14 studio albums.
He also released three live albums including Together At The Bluebird Café with Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt.
THE EMBRYONIC ALBUMS
If I can just get off of this LA freeway/ without getting killed or caught/ I'd be down that road in a cloud of smoke/ for some land that I ain't bought. - L.A. Freeway - Guy Clark.
Clark released his debut LP, Old No. 1 , on RCA in 1975.
It included L.A. Freeway that was covered by Jerry Jeff Walker , Spanky & Our Gang and others.
The album's Texas 1947 became a hit single for Johnny Cash, and its Desperados Waiting for a Train was covered by many, including Rita Coolidge, Tom Rush and the country supergroup The Highwaymen.
Bellarine Peninsula bluesman and singer-songwriter Chris Wilson also parodied the late Johland born singer-songwriter and former opal miner A.P. Johnson with his spoof song Desperado Waiting For a Tram.
Cash later covered Let Him Roll - a classic wino song from this debut disc.
Clark's second album was Texas Cookin' in 1976.
It included Broken Hearted People, The Last Gunfighter Ballad and the title tune.
Cash covered The Last Gunfighter Ballad in 1977.
The laconic style Clark won him a loyal following on the country/folk touring circuit especially in Australia and Europe.
He moved to Warner Brothers and issued the LP Guy Clark in 1978.
It included the first version of Fools For Each Other.
That song became a yet another Clark hit the late Lynn Anderson and Ed Bruce sang a duet version of the song in 1986.
Clark issued The South Coast of Texas in 1981 - his breakthrough.
Produced by Crowell it included New Cut Road - a hit for Bobby Bare.
Bluegrass-gospel-country artist Ricky Skaggs topped charts with Heartbroke .
Clark had a minor hit with The Partner Nobody Chose and Crowell later hit No. 1 with She's Crazy for Leavin from the same album.
ARTIST, CHEF, LUTHIER AND BOAT BUILDER
Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better/ than bacon & lettuce & home-grown tomatoes/ up in the mornin' out in the garden/ get you a ripe one don't get a hard one/ plant 'em in the spring eat 'em in the summer/ all winter with out 'em's a culinary bummer/ I forget all about the sweatin' & diggin'/ every time I go out & pick me a big one. - Homegrown Tomatoes - Guy Clark.
Like his wife, Guy Clark was an accomplished visual artist.
He was also a carpenter who could build anything with wood.
In his youth he built boats in Texas and as an adult he became a master craftsman of guitars.
This was reflected on his 1982 LP Better Days .
Former mortician John Conlee scored a major hit with its The Carpenter.
Prolific Austin Grammy winners and western swing aces Asleep at the Wheel issued Blowin' Like a Bandit as a single.
Clark got radio airplay with Homegrown Tomatoes and his salute to fatherhood , The Randall Knife.
In 1986, Vince Gill had a hit with Oklahoma Borderline that he co-wrote with Clark and Crowell.
Two years later, Steve Wariner scored with Baby I'm Yours .
Pirates of the Mississippi had a single with Clark's Too Much in 1992.
Other who recorded his songs are Harris, Earle, Dobson, Lovett, Griffith, Don Williams, George Strait, Lacy J. Dalton, Mark Chesnutt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band , The Everly Brothers, John Denver, Billy Dean, Hal Ketchum, Charley Pride, T. Graham Brown, Tammy Wynette, Patty Loveless, Crystal Gayle, Alan Jackson and Waylon Jennings.
Guy Clark was a meticulous song craftsman, choosing his phrases carefully.
He seldom settled for the easy couplet - instead he'd labour for weeks to paint the precise word portrait of a time, person or place.
This is why his albums appeared with less frequency in his later career - Grammy-nominated Old Friends in 1988.
Boats to Build followed in 1992, Dublin Blues 1995 , Keepers in 1997, Cold Dog Soup in 1999 and The Dark in 2002.
Clark was honoured with a residency at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
At the time, Brad Paisley was singing Clark's Out in the Parking Lot and Jimmy Buffett was performing Boats to Build .
Guy Clark's most recent CDs have been on Dualtone Records .
They include Workbench Songs (2006), Some Days the Song Writes You (2009) and Songs and Stories (2011).
The title tune of Kenny Chesney's 2010 album Hemingway's Whiskey was co-written by Clark - so was the title tune of Pistol Annies graduate Ashley Monroe's Like a Rose debut in 2012.
In late 2011 an all-star collection saluted his artistic prowess.
The double-CD This One's for Him tribute album featured Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Kevin Welch, Suzy Bogguss, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Radney Foster, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill and others singing his works.
The tribute album was organised by Tamara Saviano - his publicist.
She has also been working on a biography and documentary of Clark for several years.
Its working title was Without Getting Killed Or Caught and scheduled for release on Clark's 75th birthday on November 6 .
Sadly Clark won't be there - in June 2015 he was hospitalised just before he was scheduled to appear at an Austin City Limits event being held in his behalf.
Clark had a bad reaction to medication he was prescribed after a recent surgical procedure and missed the ACL Hall of Fame induction.
The induction ceremony continued in Clark's absence and fellow Texan Lyle Lovett accepted the honour on Guys' behalf.