This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark
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2012 two CD collection, released to coincide with Guy Clark's 70th birthday. Artists include Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Shawn Colvin, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylous Harris and John Prine, Patty Griffin, Ron Sexsmith, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker and others. The collection was lovingly produced by Grammy-winning producer Tamara Saviano (Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster) and frequent Clark co-writer Shawn Camp ("Sis Draper," "Magnolia Wind"). 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's Cedar Creek Records principal Fred Remmert.
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Sorry this review is so long, but since everyone did such a good job, I think they should each get a mention.
Fellow Texan Rodney Crowell kicks things off with a solid cover of "That Old Time Feeling," followed by Lyle Lovett's brilliant turn on the 3/4 time "Anyhow I Love You." Both Crowell and Lovett gave smooth and polished performances at the tribute show in Austin on Nov. 2, with Lovett taking time to credit Clark with jumpstarting his career.
"Without Guy Clark, there would have been no Lyle Lovett," he said. "Before he even met me, he was telling everyone about my demo tape."
Shawn Colvin's sly "All He Wants is You" will make you rethink Clark's crusty image. At the show, Colvin said, "I think Guy Clark is sexy," and from the audience's reaction, they agreed.
Shawn Camp, Clark's longtime friend and fellow musician, does double duty on the CD, playing backup and laying down Clark's ode "Homeless." I dare you to listen without thinking about current economic conditions.
Ron Sexsmith covers "Broken Hearted People," while Roseann Cash delivers a hearfelt "Better Days."
Willie steps up to the plate for "Desperados Waiting for A Train," breathing new life into the Clark classic.
Rockabilly legend Rosie Flores wails on "Baby Took a Memphis," hitting some great guitar licks. Her performance at the tribute show was so much fun. Everything Flores touches turns torchy ... in a good way.
One of the CDs highlights is Kevin Welch's delivery of "Magdalene." Try to find a quiet moment when you listen to the song the first time. Welch takes Clark's lyrics about a restless wanderer and transforms it to one of the most powerful love songs ever written. Seriously.
Suzy Boggus handles the sadness of "Instant Coffee Blues" with subtle gentleness.
At the concert, Texas outlaw Ray Wylie Hubbard turned "Homegrown Tomatoes" into a full blown sing-a-long and I can't listen to this cut without wanting to join in.
Certainly the CD's most emotional moment comes from John Townes (JT) Van Zandt's cover of "Let Him Roll." At the show, JT paid tribute to Clark, saying, "My dad and Guy were best friends. My dad was quick burning. Guy was stable and dependable. He was a lot of things my father wasn't."
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, himself a subject in one of Clark's tunes ("Cold Dog Soup") went to the studio to cover "The Guitar," a talking song written by Clark and his long-time touring buddy, Verlon Thompson. Shawn Camp's mandolin work on this cut is amazing.
For me, the CD's most powerful cut is James McMurtry's cover of "Cold Dog Soup." It's the perfect blend of Clark's genius lyrics, telling the real story of life on the circuit, along with McMurtry's world weariness and the ghost of Townes Van Zandt, Clark's best friend of 35 years. I drove 5 hours one way to hear McMurtry do it at the tribute show and would do it again. For Texas music fans, it just doesn't get any better. I hope this one gets a nod at Grammy time.
Youngster Hays Carll was the perfect choice to cover, "Worry B Gone." Enough said.
Texas legend Joe Ely brings honesty to his arrangement of "Dublin Blues," one of Clark's most famous tunes. Again, perfect casting. I can't think of anyone else (but Clark himself) who could have done this one.
John Prine and Emmylou Harris have never sounded better than in "Magnolia Wind." It will make you want to fall in love again. I promise.
Steve Earle, who Clark mentored and toured with for many years, will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck with the hard-hitting "Last Gunfighter Ballad."
Verlon Thompson, Clark's long-time touring partner and best friend, lovingly handles "All Through Throwing Good Love After Bad." Thompson says the song hits close to home and he loved doing it. It shows.
Another powerful moment comes from Terri Hendrix's brilliant interpretation of "The Dark." It's a celebration of the night and of surviving bad times. Brava.
You might have thought Clark's long-time buddy Jerry Jeff Walker would have covered "L.A. Freeway," but Walker closes the CD, so Radney Foster was tapped to record Clark's most famous song. It works. Very well.
Patti Griffin's interpretation of "The Cape" proves her complete understanding of a never-say-die attitude.
Kris Kristofferson begins his cut, "Hemingway's Whiskey" with a brief story but funny story of a close encounter with Papa ... and then proceeds to sound exactly like a glass of the golden liquid. I think time will prove this tune is one of the best things Clark has ever penned.
Gary Nicholson, Darrell Scott and Tim O'Brien take turns singing the verses to the raucous "Texas Cookin'." You'll be tapping your toes and craving chicken fried steak by the end.
Jack Ingram rocks "Stuff That Works." At the tribute show, he brought the house down and gained some new fans.
Country superstar Vince Gill played guitar the first time Clark recorded "The Randall Knife," so it's fitting that he laid down this one for the CD. I don't think anyone will mind that his beautiful voice is used for talking instead of singing.
Fellow Texas Robert Earl Keen delivers one of his best performances on "Texas 1947." By the time he's finished telling the story of "fast rolling streamline ... screaming straight through Texas like a mad dog cyclone," you can see the train and feel it going down the tracks.
Terry Allen helps wind up the 2-CD set with a tender rendition of "Old Friends." It's a rare glimpse into the heart of Clark, who may appear gruff on the outside, but in reality, is a full blown sentimentalist when it comes to the ones closest to him.
It's said that "She Ain't Going Nowhere" is Clark's favorite. The song is handled with great care by a young group of women calling themselves "The Trishas." These girls have a bright future ahead of them. Their harmonies will give you chills.
The CDs close out with a new song, "My Favorite Picture of You," a love song about Clark's wife, Susanna, written especially for Jerry Jeff Walker to record.
When Clark called Walker to tell him about the tune, he said, "This may be my best one yet." Indeed.
It's the perfect ending to the perfect collection of Guy Clark songs ... produced by the amazing Tamara Saviano and performed by gifted artists who truly appreciate Clark's contributions to the world of great stories, told to music.
"This One's For Him" really is the best thing I've heard in a long, long time. Kudos to everyone involved. Here's hoping it wins everything come award season.
However, if you like real songs that tell stories that can elicit real emotions with the marriage of well-crafted tunes married to beautiful word stories then by all means pick this up. The list of artists that record 30 of Guy Clark's best songs reads like a who's who of Americana or roots music. But even they would agree that they're not the stars here. It's the songs. Clark has to be one of nation's most unappreciated treasures. Even his buddy Townes Van Zandt, who is underrated himself, gets more street cred.
Clark proves that the Bush II, Rick Perry, death penalty side of Texas is not the whole story. He and Townes and Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle and even a young John Hiatt were hanging out and inspiring each other while making great music right there in the Longhorn state since the early 1970s. If you can somehow track down an old movie called Heartworn Highways you can see all these guys interacting. If you know Guy Clark at all it may be as a wise old man, but in the movie you'll see him as a handsome young dude who already had written some great songs and, oh yes, makes his own guitars. Can Ke$ha make a guitar?
The Dublin Blues cover from Joe Ely is, on its own, well worth the purchase price of this double cd. Buy it! Buy it now!