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Guy Clark
Guy Clark
Guy Clark at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival.jpg
Clark at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival
Background information
Guy Charles Clark
Born (1941-11-06)November 6, 1941
Monahans, Texas, U.S.
Died May 17, 2016(2016-05-17) (aged 74)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Country, Texas country, outlaw country, folk Americana
Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Labels RCA, Warner, Sugar Hill, Elektra, Dualtone
Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Verlon Thompson

Guy Charles Clark (November 6, 1941 - May 17, 2016)[1] was an American Texas country and folk singer, musician, songwriter, recording artist, and performer.[2] He released more than twenty albums, and his songs have been recorded by other artists including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, and Rodney Crowell. He won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album: My Favorite Picture of You.

Clark was born in Monahans, Texas, and eventually settled in Nashville, where he helped create the progressive country and outlaw country genres. His songs "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train" that helped launch his career were covered by numerous performers. The New York Times described him as "a king of the Texas troubadours", declaring his body of work "was as indelible as that of anyone working in the Americana idiom in the last decades of the 20th century".[3]


He was an accomplished luthier and often played his own guitars.[4] He achieved success as a songwriter with Jerry Jeff Walker's recordings of "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train". Artists such as Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Hayes Carll, Brad Paisley, John Denver, Alan Jackson, Rodney Crowell, The Highwaymen, and Kenny Chesney have recorded Clark's songs.[5]Emmylou Harris has accompanied him on several recordings, particularly his own version of "Desperados Waiting for a Train" on his first album, Old No. 1, released in 1975.

Clark had been a mentor to such other singers as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. He organized Earle's first job as a writer in Nashville. In the 1970s, the Clarks' home in Nashville was an open house for songwriters and musicians[6] and it features in the film Heartworn Highways, an evocation of the songwriter scene in Nashville at that time.[7]

Numerous artists have charted with Clark-penned tunes. In 1982, Bobby Bare made it to the Country Top Twenty with Clark's "New Cut Road". That same year, bluegrass leader Ricky Skaggs hit No. 1 with Clark's "Heartbroke", a song that permanently established his reputation as an ingenious songwriter. Among the many others who have covered Clark's songs are Vince Gill, who took "Oklahoma Borderline" to the Top Ten in 1985; The Highwaymen, who introduced "Desperados Waiting for a Train" to a new generation that same year; and John Conlee, whose interpretation of "The Carpenter" rode into the Top Ten in 1987. Clark is frequently referred to as The Fifth Highwayman.[]

Steve Wariner took his cover of Clark's "Baby I'm Yours" to No. 1 in 1988; Asleep at the Wheel charted with Clark's "Blowin' Like a Bandit" the same year. Crowell was Clark's co-writer on "She's Crazy for Leavin'", which in 1989 became the third of five straight #l hits for Crowell. Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson cover Clark's "Out in the Parkin' Lot," co-written with Darrell Scott, on Paisley's Time Well Wasted CD. Jimmy Buffett obviously influenced by Jerry Jeff Walker's earlier quality cover of "Boats to Build" on 1997's "Cowboy Boots & Bathin Suits", then covered Clark's "Boats to Build" and "Cinco de Mayo in Memphis".[8] Clark credits Townes Van Zandt as being a major influence on his songwriting. One of the most famous photos in Country Music history was taken on Clark's porch in 1972 of Clark, wife Susanna, Van Zandt, and Daniel Antopolsky by photographer Al Clayton. Clark and Van Zandt were best friends for many years until Van Zandt's death in 1997,[8] and Clark has included a Van Zandt composition on most of his albums. In 1995, he recorded a live album with Van Zandt and Steve Earle, Together at the Bluebird Cafe, which was released in October 2001. Other live material can be found on his album Keepers.

In 2006, Clark released Workbench Songs. The album was nominated for "Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album" at the Grammy Awards. He also toured with Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, and John Hiatt in 2004, 2005 and 2007. In May 2008, Clark canceled four concerts after breaking his leg.[9] After two months on crutches, he began to perform again on July 4 at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, where he appeared with Verlon Thompson. On June 20, 2009, Clark announced a new album titled Somedays the Song Writes You which was released on September 22, 2009. It features originals along with a Townes Van Zandt song titled "If I Needed You".

In December 2011, This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (a two-CD set) was released by Icehouse Music.[10] The CD won Americana Album of the Year at the 2012 Americana Music Honors & Awards.[11] Clark won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2014 for My Favorite Picture of You.

The final song that Clark completed was co-written with Angaleena Presley and titled "Cheer Up Little Darling". It will appear on Presley's 2017 album Wrangled.[12]

Personal life

Clark was married to songwriter and artist Susanna Clark from 1972 until her death from cancer on June 27, 2012.[6] Guy had one son, Travis Clark (b. 1966), from his first marriage to folksinger Susan Spaw.[13] On May 17, 2016, Clark died in Nashville following a lengthy battle with lymphoma.[14][15]


Studio albums

Year Album Peak chart positions Label
US Country US US Heat US Indie US Folk
1975 Old No. 1 41 RCA
1976 Texas Cookin' 48
1978 Guy Clark Warner
1981 The South Coast of Texas
1983 Better Days 48
1988 Old Friends Sugar Hill
1992 Boats to Build Asylum
1995 Dublin Blues
1999 Cold Dog Soup Sugar Hill
2002 The Dark 46
2006 Workbench Songs 74 36 Dualtone
2009 Somedays the Song Writes You 59 13 39
2013 My Favorite Picture of You 12 62 14 5

Compilations and live albums

Year Album Label
1979 On The Road Live [live, promo] Warner
1982 Best of Guy Clark Warner
1983 Guy Clark - Greatest Hits RCA
1995 Craftsman Rounder/Philo
1997 Keepers [live] Sugar Hill
The Essential Guy Clark RCA
2001 Together at the Bluebird Cafe [live]
(with Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle)
American Originals
2007 Americana Master Series:
Best of the Sugar Hill Years
Sugar Hill
Live from Austin, TX New West
Hindsight 21-20: Anthology 1975-1995 Raven
2008 The Platinum Collection Warner
2011 Songs and Stories Dualtone
2017 Guy Clark: The Best of Dualtone Years[16] Dualtone


Year Single US Country Album
1979 "Fools for Each Other" 96 Guy Clark
1981 "The Partner Nobody Chose" 38 The South Coast of Texas
1983 "Homegrown Tomatoes" 42 Better Days



  1. ^ Sweeting, Adam (May 19, 2016). "Guy Clark obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016. 
  2. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 184-5. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  3. ^ Friskics-Warren, Bill (May 17, 2016). "Guy Clark, a King of the Texas Troubadours, Is Dead at 74". The New York Times . Retrieved 2016. 
  4. ^ Joyce, Mark (October 19, 2006). "Guy Clark "Workbench Songs" Dualtone Slaid Cleaves "Unsung" Rounder". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014. 
  5. ^ Caligiuri, Jim (September 12, 2008). "Austin News, Events, Restaurants, Music". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Hurt, Edd (July 5, 2012). "Susanna Clark, artist, hit songwriter and wife of Guy Clark, dies at 73". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2016. 
  7. ^ Moss, Marissa (April 22, 2015). "Classic 'Heartworn Highways' Documentary Gets Sequel 39 Years Later". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Remz, Jeffery (June 1997). Clark finds a set of Keepers. Country Standard Time. Accessed January 8, 2009.
  9. ^ "Home: Guy Clark Master Songwriter". December 13, 2011. Retrieved 2014. 
  10. ^ "Coming Soon - This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark". Icehouse Music. August 17, 2011. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved 2013. 
  11. ^ "'This One's For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark' Wins Americana Album of the Year". Urban Country News. September 15, 2012. Retrieved 2014. 
  12. ^ "Angaleena Presley's New Album to Feature Miranda Lambert Song". Retrieved 2018. 
  13. ^ "Guy Clark, Grammy-winning musician, dead at 74". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. May 17, 2016. Retrieved 2016. 
  14. ^ Cooper, Peter (May 17, 2016). "Guy Clark dead at 74". The Tennesseean. Retrieved 2016. 
  15. ^ Villalpando, Roberto (May 17, 2016). "Legendary Texas songwriter Guy Clark, 74, dies". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2016. 
  16. ^ "Guy Clark: The Best of the Dualtone Years". Amazon. 

Further reading

External links

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