Thursday, April 19, 2012

This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark
Various Artists

As presents go, it’s hard to beat what Guy Clark’s friends got him for his 70th  birthday. An all-star collection of buddies, road partners and fans got together and recorded 30 of his songs and called it This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark. It may be for him, but thankfully, it’s also for us.

The guest list is elbow to elbow with folks like Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill; Texans like Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Ray Wylie Hubbard; Verlon Thompson, Steve Earle and John Townes Van Zandt II.  The core Nashville band of Shawn Camp, Thompson, & pianist Jen Gunderman recorded these tracks live in studio with the help of Lloyd Maines, Mike Bub and Kenny Malone and are consistently flawless throughout.   Camp co-produced with Grammy-winner Tamara Saviano, who is working with Guy on his much-anticipated biography.

The highlights are stunning: Patty Griffin pulls The Cape around her like it always belonged there; James McMurtry’s take on Cold Dog Soup is chilling; Camp delivers the best version of Homeless I’ve ever heard; and the duet Emmylou Harris and John Prine make out of Magnolia Wind make the record worth owning. And while no song is a clunker, too many add clutter. Given the number of songs Guy has written, and the artists he’s influenced, the record could easily have been twice as large.  But a better record would be half this size.

The fact that I can complain about the record being too big while silently listing three or four songs I wish had been on here tells you what kind of songwriter Guy Clark is, what an American treasure he is and why these artists lined up to be part of this.

Curtis Lynch
December 2011

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