Close friends of songwriter Guy Clark (1941-2015), including his biographer Tamara Saviano, offer insight into his life and career during a panel discussion at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, held January 14, 2017, and hosted by the Museum’s Peter Cooper. Frequent co-writers Shawn Camp, Chuck Mead, and Verlon Thompson share personal stories and perform.
Guy Clark’s album catalog spans from 1975’s “Old No. 1” to 2013’s “My Favorite Picture of You” (which earned a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album). The discussion touches on topics that span his career, and trace back to his formative years in Houston, Texas, where he absorbed the music of the region’s blues artists.
The panel begins with Saviano—author of 2016’s “Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark”—explaining why it bugged Clark to be called a “craftsman,” a term used frequently to capture his broadly admired lyricism as well as his talent for building guitars. The panelists share memories of time spent with Clark in his basement workshop, where he worked on building both guitars and songs. By alternating between writing a song and building a guitar, Clark could alternate between both sides of his brain, Thompson says.
In early 2020, that workshop was meticulously reconstructed and placed on view inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, as part of the major exhibition “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country's Roaring ’70s” (open May 25, 2018, through June 5, 2022).
The panelists also talk about Clark’s wife and muse, Susanna Clark, and the friendship the couple shared with songwriter Townes Van Zandt.
The set list includes: “Dublin Blues” (sung by Shawn Camp), “Let Him Roll” (performed by Chuck Mead), “Desperados Waiting for a Train” (Verlon Thompson), “Lower Broad St. Blues” (Mead), “This Guy, Guy” (Camp), and “The Guitar” (Thompson).
Near the end of the program, Saviano explains, “He would always say, ‘I’m not out to rewrite the truth.’ That was his line. After Susanna died, he handed me her journals and I said, ‘Guy, have you read these?’ And he goes, ‘No, whatever is in there is Susanna’s truth and her voice deserves to be heard.’ And she wasn’t always kind to Guy in those journals. He was so brave and fearless and he didn’t care what anybody thought about him. He was like, ‘This is me.’ Always.”
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