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Word power: Guy Clark (1941-2016)


I wake up every mornin’ Lord and what do I see

I got a fool in my mirror and he’s lyin’ to me


On May 17 the Lone Star State lost one of the quintessential Texans and the world lost one of its great songsters.

Guy Clark was much more self-knowing than most singer-songwriters; he was also much less self-indulgent.

None of his songs was merely about him, although his directly autobiographical The Randall Knife has very few peers among “father and son” songs.

One verse:

My father died when I was forty

And I couldn’t find a way to cry 

Not because I didn’t love him 

Not because he didn’t try

I’d cried for every lesser thing 

Whiskey, pain and beauty

But he deserved a better tear

And I was not quite ready 


Guy Clark’s 1975 debut disc Old No 1 is still one of the greatest singer-songwriter albums; not co-incidentally, its maker was not a youth.

It was no fluke; in terms of “great songs, all in in a row” he never topped Old No 1, but for another four decades Clark wrote and co-wrote (often, with his late wife Susanna) a large number of wonderful songs.

In one of them – Dublin Blues –  Clark praised three great artists who would otherwise never have appeared within a single, pithy verse – Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Doc Watson.

Highly literate, but unpretentious, erudite but earthy, Guy Clark often made me smile.

Sometimes, he made me cry.

For many years – whenever my beloved and I were not at home – Guy Clark (unwittingly) answered our telephone.

If you’d like your unattended ‘phone to amuse your friends whilst deterring salesmen, simply apply a little of Guy and Susanna Clark’s  How’d You Get This Number!

Click here to read a good obituary that also leads to audio of many choice songs.


Published in music songs, in English word power


  1. Pat Kershaw Pat Kershaw

    Hadn’t heard about Guy Clark until I read your post, Doug. He was a companion (Old No. 1 – still know every word) on my drives between Tom Price and Perth in the ’70s. Think Murray Jennings introduced his music to me. Always trust your cape.

  2. Inkku Inkku

    Listening to the Old No. 1 now for the first time in my life. Thank you!

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