Track Listing

Label's Site
Disk 1
1.Fool on the Roof (4:11) 9.The Houston Kid (4:00)
2.Fools for Each Other (4:16) 10.Fool on the Roof Blues (2:35)
3.Shade of All Greens (3:15) 11.Who Do You Think You Are (3:25)
4.Voila,an American Dream (3:48) 12.Crystelle (3:04)
5.One Paper Kid (3:27) 13.New Cut Road (3:44)
6.In the Jailhouse Now (3:49) 14.Rita Ballou (3:12)
7.Comfort and Crazy (3:08) 15.South Coast of Texas (3:46)
8.Don't You Take It Too Bad (4:04)

Disk 2
1.Heartbroke (3:02) 9.Supply and Demand (3:14)
2.The Partner Nobody Chose (3:08) 10.Randall Knife (4:10)
3.She's Crazy for Leavin' (2:54) 11.The Carpenter (3:13)
4.Calf-Rope (2:35) 12.Uncertain Texas (2:27)
5.Lone Star Hotel (3:23) 13.No Deal (3:18)
6.Blowin' Like a Bandit (2:40) 14.Tears (2:48)
7.Better Days (3:02) 15.Fool in the Mirror (3:30)
8.Homegrown Tomatoes (2:58)

Liner Notes
Robert K. Oermann
Nashville, Tennessee, 1995

Poet, troubadour, storyteller and the patron saint of an entire generation of bohemian pickers, Guy Clark has become an emblem of artistic integrity, quiet dignity and simple truth. But, please, hold the ovations. Guy wears no crown, seeks no award and yearns for no adulation. He has been lauded as one of the Great American Songwriter, but Guy thinks of himself as merely a patient craftsman. He has lived in Nashville for more than 20 years, but Guy Clark still thinks of himself as the quintessential Texan. He is almost invariably described as a "country" act, but Guy Clark has always thought of himself as a folk singer.

"Texas folksong craftsman" - not much of a description for someone who is held in such awe by so many. A tiny phrase for someone has redefined what it is to be a "singer/songwriter." Simple words for someone who had been such a profound influence on others.

He cringes at the term "father figure," shudders at the idea of being a "role model" and blushes at the notion that he is a "mentor." But Guy is all of those things.

Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Richard Dodson, Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams and Lyle Lovett have all walked in his long shadow. Each has been a collaborator in the recording studio, a troubador whose work has been championed bt Guy Clark or both. The members of U2 sit at his feet. Michelle Shocked once referred to him as "God Clark."

His audience hails from Illinois, Ireland, Italy and lots of places in between. Middle-aged hippies, serious literature students, alienated alternative rockers, sober businessmen, honkytonk hellraisers and misty-eyed grandparents attend his spellbinding shows, invariably listening with rapt attention as he spins his yarns of cowboys, carpenters, rounders, lovers and losers, of hobos, sailors, farmers, waitresses, wanderers, winos and whores.

Guy Clark won their hearts with seven albums populated by these characters. Released at a leisurely pace over a period of 20 years, these collections weren't made to cultivate a legend or create a mystique. They were made for the sake of the songs. They spring from the sheer love of language, from the elemental sounds of a man and his guitar.

They spring from his grandmother's hotel lobby, his parents' living room poetry readings, his coffeehouse balledeering and a hundred convivial barrooms.

Guy Was born in West Texas in 1941. He spent his youth in Monahans, out beyond the flatlands of Midland/Odessa. The only hotel in town was owned by his grandmother, and there the boy soaked up tales of the Old West from the tobacco-stained railroaders who reminisced while they whittled. At home, his parents encouraged his interest in the arts - evenings were often spent in poetry recital.

The family moved to Texas' Gulf Coast. In high school, Guy worked in a shipyard building shrimp boats, beginning a life as a carpenter and wood worker. He got his first guitar at age 16, initially performing Mexican tunes he learned from his father's law partner. After schooling, he moved to Houston. Guy came of age there during the folk revival of the 1960s, hanging around the Houston Folklore Society, learning tunes from country bluesmen Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb and forming a Weavers-type singing group with future country-pop start K.T. Oslin.

"All I was, to begin with, was a folksinger," says Guy, "doing traditional English ballads and Irish ballads and all that kind of thing. A lot of what I do is steeped in that traditional kind of approach. And I usually put at least one blues-influenced tune on each album."

By 1967 he was composing original material. His course was set. Guy headed for San Fransicso to sing in clubs and repair guitars. Back in Houston, he worked as the art director for a TV station. Next came a stint in Los Angeles, where Guy made his first real effort to make a living with his songs. He also built Dobro guitars at the Dopera Brothers' famed factory.

Encouraged by his songwriter/painter wife Susana, Guy Clark moved to Nashville in 1971. The creative couple soon became the godparents to a wide assortment of songwriters, pickers, poets, and longhairs in conservative Music City, most of them fellow mavericks from the Lone Star State who followed them to country's capital. It's not that Guy is so widely sociable. He just deals with his fellow artists in a quiet, drawling, Texas way that ultimately draws them to him. Besides, he loves a good "guitar pull."

His tall, ranky good looks and tough/tender on-stage manner added to the appeal of his increasingly striking songs. Boozy charm, a deadpan sense of humor and plain old charisma did the rest. RCA offered him a recording contract and Old No. 1 appeared as his debut LP in 1975. Texas Cookin' (1976), Guy Clark (1978), The South Coast Of Texas (1981), Better Days (1983), Old Friends (1989) and Boats To Build (1993) round out his record catalog to date.

"I just figure the time to record is when you have 10 good songs, however long that takes," comments Guy about his sparse output. He has created a relatively small body of work, yet it looms in influence and significance. He is considered among his songwriting peers to be a master wordsmith and is widely admired for the rich detail and expressive imagery of his creations.

Guy is a meticulous craftsman, choosing his phrases carefully. He seldom settles for the easy couplet - instead he'll labor for weeks to paint the exact word portrait of a time and place, to sculpt life into his resilient, careworn characters.

And although he's far from wealthy, Guy Clark's painstaking care has been rewarded. Jerry Jeff Walker was a particularly enthusiastic booster in the early days, recording memorable versions of Guy's "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train" in the mid-'70s. Both tunes have since been recorded by many others. Johnny Cash hit the charts with Guy's "Texas 1947" (1975) and Bobby Bare did the same with "New Cut Road" (1982).

In 1982, Ricky Skaggs hit No. 1 on the country hit parade with "Heartbroke," cementing Guy Clark's songwriting reputation in Nashville. Since then, Vince Gill (1985's "Oklahoma Borderline"), Rodney Crowell (1988's "She's Crazy For Leavin'"), Ed Bruce & Lynn Anderson (1988's "Fools For Each Other"), John Conlee (1986' "The Carpenter"), The Highwaymen (1985's "Desperados Waiting For A Train"), Johnny Cash (1988's "Let Him Roll"), Pirates Of The Mississippi (1992's "Too Much") and other starts have succeeded with his carefully polished songwriting jewels.

Guy's most prolific recording occurred during his tenure with Warner Brothers Records, the 1978-1984 period that produced Guy Clark, The South Coast Of Texas and Better Days, three of his finest albums. Ironically, they are also the only three that have been out of print. Five of the 10 hits for others listed above were drawn from these collections. In addition, the Warner albums are the ones that yielded Guy's only significant radio singles as an artist, 1979's "Fools For Each Other", 1981's "The Partner That Nobody Chose" and 1983's "Homegrown Tomatoes."

Guy Clark (1978), produced in Nashville by the late Neil Wilburn, was the most experimental of the three collections, featuring touches of cello, harpsichord and clavinet, as well as the traditional country stringed instruments. Don Everly, Rodney Crowell, The Whites, Larry Willoughby and the then-unknown Kay Oslin contributed background vocals; and the instrumental cast included such hotshots as Albert Lee, Buddy Emmons and Mickey Raphael.

The South Coast Of Texas (1981) was easily Guy Clark's most assured and accomplished recording up until that date. It was produced by his Houston buddy Rodney Crowell. At the time, Crowell had little track record as a producer; he was still several months away from acclaim as the mastermind behind Rosanne Cash, Sissy Spacek, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare and other artists he guided as a producer. Guy's masterpiece was Rodney's first as well.

Working in Los Angelos, the two men assembled a cast that performed behind Clark's smoky, personable leads vocals throughout the project. The instrumental textures came from Richard Bennett, Hank DeVito, Emory Gordy, Glen D. Hardin and the late, great drummer Larrie Londin. Pure Prarie League member Vince Gill, then a virtual unknown, provided harmony vocals and such celebrities as Rosanne Cash and Ricky Skaggs made guest appearances. The album's "New Cut Road," "Heartbroke," "The Partner Nobody Chose" and "She's Crazy For Leavin'" all hit the radio airwaves as one artists after another was struck by Guy's gifts.

Much of the same team reassembled in Nashville two years later to record Better Days. Vince's role was considerably increased; in addition to singing harmonies, he sat in as lead guitarist, abetted by Gary Nicholson and Reggie Young. Tony Brown took the piano slot and famed fiddler Johnny Gimble was added to the studio group. The result was a sound that approached perfection.

"The Carpenter" and "Homegrown Tomatoes" became the best known songs from Better Days. But Guy Clark's "The Randall Knife," a eulogy written for his father, is arguably the master work of the album.

And that's the way it is with Guy Clark records. Certain songs bubble to the surface at once. Then later, one comes sneaking around a corner to catch you with a wise, wry wink. In between the tomatoes, knives and carpenters' tools on Better Days are the settling tale of a fisherman turned smuggler in "Supply And Demand," the storm warning in "Blowing Like A Bandit," and the liberated lady in "Better Days." Tucked amid the many hit tunes on The South Coast Of Texas are the captivating vixens of "Crystelle" and "Rita Ballou," the character with `attitude' in "Who Do You Think You Are" and the faded rodeo queen in the "Lone Star Hotel." Guy Clark's unexpected treats range from the ballad reverie "Comfort And Crazy" to the delightful romp "The Houston Kid."

Tunes like these now await rediscovery by songwriting explorers and musical drifters, polished gems of rhythm and rhyme that have gleamed in the dark for more than a decade. Years ago, Guy Clark tucked them away so we could dig them up today to marvel at their facets.

"They're about reality," says the craftsman simply. There's no mystery to becoming a songwriting legend, Guy maintains. "Write what you know about," he once told an inquiring Dallas scribe, "that's the important things. Write with a pencil and a big eraser."