Legendary Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark may have passed away in 2016, but his influence on the country music genre lives on. His incredible songwriting talent inspired generations of Nashville performers. From "The Randall Knife" to "Let Him Roll," Clark was quite the wordsmith.
Born in 1941 in Texas, not only did Clark help bring back the folk music scene while performing around Houston, but he also helped spread the Americana movement after moving to Music City. Though already a prominent performer and songwriter, Clark didn't release his debut album Old No. 1 until 1975. The album was full of incredible songs that were covered by the likes of The Highwaymen. His second album, Texas Cookin', included guests artists including Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Verlon Thompson, and Waylon Jennings.
Clark and his wife Susanna were also old friends with the iconic Townes Van Zandt, whose songs are featured on Clark's albums. Clark has even stated that Van Zandt kept his writing honest and was one of the reasons he even started writing. Clark also helped many singers like Steve Earle get their name out in the industry by opening his home up as an open house to young aspiring musicians in Nashville.
Clark loved writing and collaborating with other creatives which definitely contributed to his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. His last album in 2014, My Favorite Picture of You even earned him a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. In honor of this American treasure, we've rounded up eight of the best Guy Clark songs.
12. "Rita Ballou"
Clark tells the story of Texas wild card "hill country honky-tonkin Rita Ballou" on his 1975 debut album Old No. 1.
11. "Sis Draper"
From 1999's Cold Dog Soup, the story of traveling fiddler "Sis Draper" is yet another example of Clark's incredible character sketches.
10. "Fools for Each Other"
Whether you're heartbroke or in love, we can all relate to this song.
"And we are fools for each other, me and you/ We are lovers, in fact, we've gone crazy out back/ Like only fools for each other would do"
9. "The Partner Nobody Chose"
From Clark's 1981 album The South Coast of Texas, "The Partner Nobody Chose" includes accompanying vocals from Rodney Crowell, who produced the album.
8. "Homegrown Tomatoes"
Who else could sing about tomatoes with such conviction? The song is a true tribute to the simple things in life. "Only two things money can't buy/That's true love and homegrown tomatoes"
7. "Stuff That Works"
From Clark's 1995 album Dublin Blues, "Stuff That Works" honors the things you can count on: old denim shirts, well-made boots, great friends and love from your soulmate. Clark references his wife Susanna with the song's final verse:
"I got a woman I love/ She's crazy and paints like God/ She's got a playground sense of justice/ She won't take odds / I got a tattoo with her name right through my soul/ I think everything she touches turns to gold."
6. "Magnolia Wind"
Written by Clark with Shawn Camp, "Magnolia Wind" is one of Clark's most stunning love songs. The song was later recorded by Emmylou Harris and John Prine for the Clark tribute album This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark.
5. "Dublin Blues"
The title track of his 1995 album is one of the most popular of Clark's songs. Other standout songs on the album include "Stuff That Works" and "The Cape".
4. "The Guitar"
"The Guitar" is another prime example of how Clark was a master storyteller.
3. "L.A. Freeway"
This was one of the songs that really helped put Clark on the map. He had lived in Los Angeles with Susanna before they moved to Nashville and he hated it. No one was taking notice of his songs and he just didn't like the vibe. The phrase "If I could just get off of this L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught" came into his mind and he immediately wrote it on a paper bag. He finished the actual song in Tennessee and it captured all those feelings he'd had on the coast.
2. "Desperados Waiting for a Train"
Clark wrote this song about a Gulf Oil employee who was a visitor at his grandmother's hotel. Released on his debut album, it has been covered by numerous artists over the years and is considered one of the greatest western songs of all time.
1. "My Favorite Picture of You"
The title track from this Grammy-winning album centers on an old photo of Clark's wife whom he had lost to cancer just a few years prior. It's a sweet love song that honors the life they shared together.
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