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Guy Clark: A Life In The Lyric

Guy Clark: A Life In The Lyric

Guy Clark will be missed as one of the greatest songwriters of our time. With songs like “The Cape” and “Magdelene” he brought big ideas into what seemed like simple lines.

And of course, he wrote what is probably the best train song ever written “Desperados Waiting For A Train.”

I honestly believe that if you want to be a good songwriter you have to study the best songwriters and songs.

Just like the great contemporary poets studied those before them, it’s how you learn to write in a way that moves the world – because others have found ways to do it so well.  It’s the privilege of coming after. One we should all honor and nurture.

If you want to be a songwriter, regardless of your genre, one of the best places to start is Guy Clark’s song catalogue.  He was one of the best at writing real lyrics about real life, that involved real people – and connected with a listener.

The lose of Guy Clark recently doesn’t mean anyone should stop listening or studying. And maybe those who didn’t know his songs well before will take some time to appreciate this songcraft master.

For my own studies, I’ve compiled several articles, videos and song surgeries (analysis) I thought I would share for those who may want to find out how a life of great songs starts . . . and continues on.



Role Models: Guy Clark On Songwriting – American Songwriter (November 11, 2011)


Guy Clark: The High Price Of Inspiration – American Songwriter (July 22, 2013)


Album Review: My Favorite Picture of You, 4 1/2 stars – American Songwriter


He Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – Texas Monthly (January 2014)


Guy Clark & Rodney Crowell Discuss Woodie Guthrie – American Songwriter (September 14, 2012)


Post Script: Guy Clark, 1941 – 2016 – New Yorker (May 17, 2016)


Wikipedia: Guy Clark




Guy Clark: Story Behind The Song “My Favorite Picture Of You” (2013)


Lyle Lovett “Step Inside This House”  (2015)

It’s probably worth noting that this is the first song Guy Clark ever wrote!  This is from Clark’s Austin City Limits Hall of Fame induction.


Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson – SmithsonianFolklife

Early musical inspiration having grown up in Texas and Houston in particular.


Austin City Limits: Songwriters Showcase (1983)


Interview With Texas Heritage Songwriter’s Association (2009)

“You have to leave holes in the right place.  You can’t detail everything perfectly or they have no room to get inside it – or to allow it to touch them.”


Guy Clark’s Favorite Cover Of His Own Song?

Slim Pickens reads “Desperados Waiting For A Train” over the music


Willie Nelson “Desperados Waiting For A Train”


Performances At Bars Throughout The Years

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