Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Guy Clark's Golden Hooks

Guy Clark was the songwriter who could whip out three words and leave you in a cloud of dust. You could also taste that west Texas dust in almost every song and there never seemed enough whiskey or wine to clear your throat.

It was Ohio State's Woody Hayes who famously extolled football's winning formula: three yards and a cloud of dust. Sometimes it took Guy more three words but he always won you over. The best way to pay tribute to him is to simply replay some of those phrases. He pretty much defined the "Outlaw" in modern roots music:

Desperadoes waiting for a train...

If I can get off of this LA freeway without gettin killed or caught.

And all that I learned from a Colt 45
Was to curse the smell of the black powder smoke
And the stand in the street at the turn of a joke

Then of course there were those fascinating, mesmerizing women

And the blues had a way with her smile
And she had a way of her own
Like prisoners have a way with a file

He always said that heaven 
Was just a Dallas whore

Hill Country, Honky Tonkin'  Rita Ballou
Every beer joint in town has played the fool for you
Backsliding, barrel riding Rita Ballou
Ain't a cowboy in Texas would not a ride a bull for you

Oh me, oh my how she makes that bow hair fly
How she hangs that music in the air

Then there was the company he kept. Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill and Jerry Jeff Walker and Rickey Skaggs among others. They are among many who would say to Guy Clark: Thanks for the songs.