Guy Clark, dead at 74.
The following are excerpts from an article in the Houston Chronicle by Andrew Dansby. You can read the entire article by clicking on this link. [Chronicle Article by Andrew Dansby]
Guy Clark rolled up 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.
Best known as one of the great songwriters of the 20th century, Clark took unassuming characters and mundane happenings and projected them into narratives with epic scope. Among Texas songwriters, only Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt compare to Clark, who died at age 74 Tuesday morning at his Nashville home, after a long illness.
"I stepped into his home once, and it was full of art and guitars; it was this place full of artistic creation," said Lyle Lovett, a friend and admirer of Clark's work. "And that reaches into his songs as well. We're all trying to get to the same place through our discovery of things that make us feel like we're OK. That's basically what music and art does. You want to find a mutual point of view with somebody who understands how you feel.
"Guy's a master at expressing feeling in songs."
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. But Clark's frame of choice was the four-minute folk song. Within it he built worlds.
"Guy Clark was the best self-editor I've ever come across," said singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell. "He had lines that other songwriters could hang a career on, but Guy would throw them out if they didn't fit the narrative. That was the technical part of his skill as a writer. He was also like Cheever or Larry McMurtry in that he wrote about simple people and turned their narratives into something profound about the human condition. He had this song, 'Out in the Parking Lot,' I don't know. It's like a Van Gogh painting."
Other artists repeatedly went to Clark's well over the years - many whose fame eclipsed his own. Emmylou Harris covered Clark in the '70s. Ricky Skaggs in the '80s. Kenny Chesney made "Hemingway's Whiskey" the title track of his 2010 album.
Probably the best-known of Clark's numerous great works is "Desperados Waiting For a Train," popularized by Jerry Jeff Walker in the '70s and The Highwaymen in the '80s. The song is emblematic of Clark's narrative gifts, packing an old man's lifetime into just a few lines as seen through the eyes of his young companion.
As told by Clark, simple lives carried weight worthy of the big screen.