In one of the most underrated televised displays of pure country music artistry, Nanci Griffith brought Guy Clark and other talented peers to the Late Show With David Letterman for an all-star tribute to Clark’s “Desperados Waiting For a Train.”
The broadcast promoted Griffin’s covers album Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful), which dropped the same day as this July 21, 1998 broadcast. It followed-up her 1993 career-defining, Grammy-winning album Other Voices, Other Rooms. This time, the country and folk chanteuse ‘s covers selection included a nod to Clark’s famed 1975 debut album Old. No. 1.
Clark’s ode to elderly role models, known partly for its inclusion in the Highwaymen’s set list, shines brighter than ever. Griffith and Clark take turns handling vocal duties with a real who’s-who of talented Texans and their Nashville allies. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Jeff Walker and Eric Taylor also took the stage. It’s easily one of the most star-studded galleries appearing on something other than an awards show.
Letterman touchingly introduces Griffith as his hero. It wasn’t the first or last time he showed a deep appreciation for modern-day interpreters of roots music traditions. For example, Letterman’s love of Los Angeles punks X exposed a broader audience to John Doe before he made rootsy solo albums or co-starred in Pure Country.