Like Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, and Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, carried the tradition of the rough-hewn Texas singer/songwriter to his own personal corner of American roots music. Known for songs like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” Clark had his songs recorded by everyone from Jerry Jeff Walker to Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris to Vince Gill. Clark passed away today at the age of 74.
An excerpt from this morning’s Houston Chronicle:
“Guy Clark rolled his sleeves before going to work. If he was posing for a photo, his cuffs would be buttoned. If he was writing, strumming or piecing together a guitar, the sleeves would be up past his elbows.
That was the prevailing look for Clark, best known as one of the great Texas songwriters of the 20th century, an artist who took unassuming characters and mundane happenings and projected them into narratives with epic scope. Crowds came to see his rare gifts as a storyteller, a tall performer of gravity and nuance who commanded silence. Off the stage, this respected luthier retreated to his workbench in Nashville and built beautiful flamenco-style guitars. The image of Clark, sleeves rolled, working with wood or words, earned him a reputation as a craftsman, a word that became the title of one of his recordings. “Workbench Songs” was another. But Clark’s methodical process for creating things obscured a bright creative fire. He was a craftsman like other craftsmen – Faulkner, Twain, Picasso, which is to say he was an artist first. Clark’s frame of choice wasn’t a book cover or a canvas, but rather the four-minute folk song. Within it he built worlds.”
Clark first visited eTown all the way back in October of 1992 and again 10 years later in September of 2002. Stream both of his performances in their entirety below: