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A few notes from me. Essential is not a greatest hits compilation CD. It is 100% of Old No. 1 and 80% of Texas Cookin'. RCA reversed sides A and B of Old No.1 for tracks 1-10 of Essential, so that it starts of with Texas 1947. This has the unfortunate result of Let Him Roll being followed by Rita Ballou, and they're both in the same key. To round out the CD, The single for Fools for Each Other with an unreleased Don't Let the Sunshine Fool You replaces Texas Cookin's track 4:It's About Time and track 5:Good To Love You Lady, respectively.

That said, this is a very good music value - it's 73 minutes long, but no accident that the original albums are no longer being packaged with their original artwork and design. Here's a section from a Goldmine interview.

RCA, your first label, has just released The Essential Guy Clark, a compilation fo your early recordings. What did you think about that?
That's just RCA's business; they've done a whole series of repackaging. It's not even a creative decision--it's done by the sales department. They just go back through their catalog and figure out a way to make a few extra bucks with no investment. I mean, they've already made the investment, and all they have to do is pull out the masters and package 'em up. It's just fuckin' America, selling soap. And I got no problem with that.

Track Listing
1.Texas 1947(3:10) 11.Texas Cookin' (3:48)
2.Desperados Waiting For A Train (4:31) 12.Anyhow, I Love You (3:54)
3.Like a Coat from the Cold (3:20) 13.Virginia's Real (2:59)
4.Instant Coffee Blues (3:17) 14.Broken Hearted People (4:43)
5.Let Him Roll (4:05) 15.Black Haired Boy (3:09)
6.Rita Ballou (2:49) 16.Me I'm Feelin' the Same (3:32)
7.L.A. Freeway (4:57) 17.The Ballad of Laverne & Captain Flint (3:51)
8.She Ain't Goin' Nowhere (3:28) 18.Don't Let the Sunshine Fool You (2:54)
9.A Nickel for the Fiddler (2:48) 19.The Last Gunfighter Ballad (2:50)
10.That Old Time Feeling (4:14) 20.Fools for Each Other (4:13)

Liner Notes
Brooks & Dunn’s Ronnie Dunn recall when a friend phone him excitedly and insisted he come to a nearby club to hear Clark perform. Dunn says he was reluctant to make the effort at first, but finally gave in. "I went down to this little beer joint in downtown Nashville," he continues. "In a few minutes, this guy came walking out and proceeded to tear my heart out." Adds Lee Roy Parnell, "His music always feels good. It’s medicinal for me." Vince Gill notes that Clark "writes songs like books." To Emmylou Harris, Clark is "an American poet," and to Townes Van Zandt "a genuine Renaissance man."

Guy Clark Jr. Was born Nov. 6, 1941 in the west Texas town of Monahans. Because his father soon went off to serve in World War II and his mother was working outside the home, Clark spent his early years under the guidance of his grandmother, who ran a hotel. It was here, growing up among colorful characters, that Clark developed an eye for the small-but telling details that now distinguish his songs. One of the hotel’s residents was the oil-well driller Clark immortalized in "Desparadoes Waiting For A Train."

After the war ended, the Clark family moved to Houston and then to Corpus Christi, where Clark’s father established a law practice. (Clark memorialized his father in "The Randall Knife" on the 1995 Asylum album, Dublin Blues. Encourages by his family, Clark became interested in the arts. He showed a particular affinity for such poets as Stephen Vincent Benet and Robert Frost, who were powerful storytellers as well as being visionaires and gifted stylists. His father’s law partner fueled the youngster’s passion for music. At 16, Clark got his first guitar and was soon writing songs.

After attending and droppingn out of a number of colleges, Clark settled in Houston. There he became friends with Townes Van Zandt, John Lomaz Jr. And other stalwarts of the city’s vibrant musical community. It was also in Houston that he met and briefly sang in a folk group with Kay (later K.T.) Oslin. The folk clubs and coffeehouses provided Clark his first real workout as a performer. Because he was also a skilled painter, Clark spent some time in Houston as an art director for a television station. Then, in the late 60’s, he and Susanna decamped to Los Angeles, aiming to break into the music business there. And he did—in the most direct sort of way, working for a short while in the factory that made Dobro guitars. Subsequently, Clark found a job as staff songwriter for Sunbury Music.

In spite of his musical step up, however, the Clarks did not like Los Angeles. In 1971, less than a year after they arrived on the West Coast, the couple escaped to the relative tranquillity of Nashville. They have live in and around Music City ever since. Perhaps the sunniest side of the Los Angeles sojourn was that it inspired Clark to write "L.A. Freeway." Jerry Jeff Walker heard and like the song and included it in his eponymous 1972 MCA album. Release as a pop single in 1973, the song made it only to No. 98; but it boosted Clark into the national limelight.

As Clark worked to establish his own recording career, his songs were being cut by some of country music’s hottest acts. Johnny Cash recorded "Texas 1947" in 1976 and "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" a year later. They scored a No. 35 and No. 38, respectively, on the country charts. In 1979, Clark made his own chart debut with "Fools For Each Other." It reached the No. 96 spot. Ed Bruce and Lynn Anderson did their version of "Fools" in 1986, taking it to No. 49.

Clark hit the charts again in 1981 with "The Partner Nobody Chose" and watched it climb all the way to No. 38. In 1983, his "Homegrown Tomatoes" rolled into the No. 42 slot. During this period, Ricky Skaggs was single-handedly taking country music back to it’s roots, and one of his vehicles he used to make that journey was Clark’s hard-driving "Heartbroke." In 1982, Skaggs took the song all the way to No. 1. Bobby Bare’s 1982 version of "New Cut Road" gave Clark a No. 18 to celebrate.

Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson joined together in 1985 go introduce "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train" to a new generation. Their recording achieved a No. 15. Clark and his buddies Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell co-wrote "Oklahoma Borderline," which Gill recorded and took to No. 9 in 1986. The following year, John Conlee scored a No. 6 with "The Carpenter," Clark’s moving tribute to workmanlike values. Clark enlisted Lee Roy Parnell to co-write the rollicking "Too Much," which became a No. 36 for Pirates Of The Mississippi in 1992.

To date, Guy Clark has nine albums to his credit. After his two-album tenure at RCA, he move on to Warner Bros. For three more collections: Guy Clark (1978), The South Coast Of Texas (1981) and Better Days (1983). In 1983, RCA released . The singer’s next stop was Sugar Hill Records, which resulted in Old Friends (1989). (Sugar hill also re-issued Old No. 1). In 1992, Asylum Records released Clark’s Boats To Build. His Dublin Blues came out on the same label in 1995.

More for convenience than clarity, Clark is routinely lumped into the catch-all category of "Texas songwriter." Yet his music is quite distinctive from that of Van Zandt’s, Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and all his other home-state bards. His very roughness—his refusal to be diverted by sights, sounds and situations that are only superficiall pretty—is an essential part of his art. In Clark’s world, beauty takes root and grows from within an object or a relationship; it is not something applied to the outside. Thus, his songs tend to reveal the significance and durability of most things most people never notice. As fellow-Texan Nanci Griffith rightly observes, "Guy Clark is an original."

Don't Let the Sunshine Fool You

Me and a friend named a Street Life Brown
We got a bottle of red and we walked up town
One hand on the jug and one on time
And a bettin' be a dollar against this next line

Don't let the sunshine fool you
Don't let the bluebirds tool you
Don't let the women do you
Put your hand in mine

Well advice is fine if you got a mind
To listen to them that's got the time
But the muse will get you if you don't look out
'Cause she's equipped to know what it's all about
She said . .


Fannin street on an afternoon
is such an easy way to get a tune
But the hard soap salesman said "no dice"
When I asked polotely for a better price
He said . .


So here's a song for you child of mine
And I hope you make it through this time
Get yourself a piece of that rainbow pie
Ain't no reason in the world you can't get by boy

Chorus twice