Houston’s Icehouse Music will release “This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark” on Nov. 1 to celebrate Clark’s 70th birthday. Clark was born in Monahans, Texas on Nov. 6, 1941.
Among the country and Americana greats featured on the tribute album are Vince Gill, who was born in Norman and raised in Oklahoma City, and Kevin Welch, who was raised in Oklahoma and graduated from Midwest City High School.
Lovingly produced by Tamara Saviano—who is also working with Clark on his definitive biography—and frequent Clark co-writer Shawn Camp, the tribute includes 30 tracks by 33 Americana artists who are friends and colleagues of Clark or who have been influenced by his remarkable compositions. The collection was mixed and mastered by Austin engineer Fred Remmert. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.
Guy Clark’s poetry resonates deeply with his fellow songwriters.
“Guy’s songs are literature,” says Lyle Lovett, in the news release. “The first time I heard Guy Clark, I thought it made everything I’d heard up to that point something other than a song. His ability to translate the emotional into the written word is extraordinary.”
Accordingly, Clark’s most vibrant (“Instant Coffee Blues”) and vivid vignettes (“Desperadoes Waiting for a Train”) reel with cinematic landscapes (“The Last Gunfighter Ballad,” “The Cape”). Novellas frequently unfold within minutes (“Better Days,” “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”).
Clark’s singular storytelling chills with striking familiarity (“The Dark”).
“Songs are like Japanese painting,” he says in the release. “Less is more. One brushstroke takes the place of many if you put it in the right place. I’m trying to get whoever is listening to think, ‘Oh, man, I was there. I did that. I know what that’s about.’ Too many details take away.” Clark’s add volumes. Remember that old blue shirt? Mad Dog margarita? June bug on the window screen?
Of course, our passions forever burn brighter for the flour sack cape. Few capture courage as timelessly. “Guy Clark is a like dancer with the way he talks and a photographer with the way he writes,” says Texas indie artist Terri Hendrix in the release. “He’s the epitome of American songwriting.”
Clark’s watercolor imagery blueprints his legend, but generosity ultimately cements his legacy. For four decades, the longtime Nashville resident, whose own Grammy-nominated “Somedays the Song Writes You” (2009) soars as seamlessly as his hallmark debut Old No. 1 (1975), has cultivated songwriting talent enthusiastically. His matchless eye yields high dividends: Americana royalty Gill, Shawn Camp, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and Lovett barely begin the list he’s given sea legs. Young writers today immediately earn credibility with his stamp.
“Guy is the king in a lot of ways,” says rising songwriter Hayes Carll, who has split pages in the storied basement workshop where Clark writes and builds guitars. “I think everybody who was around Guy learned a lot from him and I think the entire music world is indebted to him for what he taught other writers. Everybody who had a chance to learn from him came away a better writer. He gave me a shot before I deserved one.” As friends say, Clark’s a curator, a creative caretaker. He celebrates high watermarks that others achieve.
“This One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark” returns the favor. Artists brought two key instruments: a guitar and profound reverence. Individual investments quickly emerged.
Perhaps most notably, Gill claims a haunting bond. “Giant tears were falling all over my guitar as we were playing,” the country star remembers about serving as guitarist on Clark’s original “Randall Knife” recording nearly 30 years ago. “My dad was a lawyer, and he died when I was 40. Guy and I are tied at the hip through that song.”
“Let’s give her a good go and make ol’ Guy proud of us,” says Rodney Crowell, kicking off the collection on the first day as he readied to record “That Old Time Feeling.”
The double-CD set was recorded live in studio with a core house band that included multi-instrumentalist Shawn Camp, guitarist Verlon Thompson, and pianist Jen Gunderman. The tribute was recorded in Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, with a rotating cast of other musicians including multi-instrumentalist Lloyd Maines, bass players Glenn Fukunaga, Mike Bub and Glenn Worf, and drummers Kenny Malone and Larry Atamanuik.
See the track listing after the break.
“This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark”
1. That Old Time Feeling – Rodney Crowell
2. Anyhow I Love You – Lyle Lovett
3. All He Wants Is You – Shawn Colvin
4. Homeless – Shawn Camp
5. Broken Hearted People – Ron Sexsmith
6. Better Days – Rosanne Cash
7. Desperadoes Waiting For A Train – Willie Nelson
8. Baby Took A Limo To Memphis – Rosie Flores
9. Magdalene – Kevin Welch
10. Instant Coffee Blues – Suzy Bogguss
11. Homegrown Tomatoes – Ray Wylie Hubbard
12. Let Him Roll – John Townes Van Zandt II
13. The Guitar – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
14. Cold Dog Soup – James McMurtry
15. Worry B Gone – Hayes Carll
1. Dublin Blues – Joe Ely
2. Magnolia Wind – Emmylou Harris & John Prine
3. The Last Gunfighter Ballad – Steve Earle
4. All Through Throwing Good Love After Bad – Verlon Thompson
5. The Dark – Terri Hendrix
6. LA Freeway – Radney Foster
7. The Cape – Patty Griffin
8. Hemingway’s Whiskey – Kris Kristofferson
9. Texas Cookin’ – Gary Nicholson, Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien
10. Stuff That Works – Jack Ingram
11. Randall Knife – Vince Gill
12. Texas 1947 – Robert Earl Keen
13. Old Friends – Terry Allen
14. She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – The Trishas
15. My Favorite Picture of You – Jerry Jeff Walker