Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Only Two Things That Money Can't Buy

Category:  Obituary

Oh, does this hurt.  Guy Clark has died.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer passed away early this morning (5/17) after a long illness.  He was transferred to a hospice facility earlier this year.

There are songwriters, and then there's Guy Clark.  Inspired, he said, by Townes Van Zandt to start writing, he in many ways surpassed his influence.  

From that #1 song (thanks to Ricky Skaggs) "Heartbroke" (Skaggs sanitized the line "pride is a bitch and a bore if you're lonely," as did George Strait with his version [Rodney Crowell's cover did not]) to the all-time classics "L.A. Freeway," "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train," and "Homegrown Tomatoes" (with its singalong and smile-along chorus of, "What would life be without homegrown tomatoes, there's only two things that money can't buy, and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes"), Guy Clark was revered by everyone except the masses.  As with most great songwriters (including Van Zandt and countless others), Clark developed a dedicated cult following, which included most of the "big names" in country music, who gleefully covered his songs.

His Dublin Blues album was a masterpiece.  Heck, all of his albums were masterpieces.  But when Doc Watson died that great line from "Dublin Blues" was the first thing that came to mind:  "I have seen the David, I've seen the Mona Lisa too, and I have heard Doc Watson play 'Columbus Stockade Blues.'"

Much like that comparison of Watson to the greatest artwork in history, we can all be thankful that we have heard Guy Clark sing "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train."  Or "The Randall Knife."  Or "Black Diamond Strings."  Or anything that he gave us.  He was a gem.

Clark's wife, Susanna, who was also a songwriter ("I'll Be Your San Antone Rose," "Easy From Now On") and painter (she did the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust album), died in 2012.  Now the two desperadoes wait for a train no longer.

Actually, there's three things that money can't buy:  true love, homegrown tomatoes, and the joy of a Guy Clark song.

Guy Clark was 74.

1 comment:

Pete Adler said...

Well said. A beautiful tribute to a fine man.