Some people fantasize about being at Woodstock, or Altamont, watching Ozzy in his hey day with Randy Rhoades, peeking in as the Stones recorded or seeing the Dead at the Avalon or Joy Division in the early days, attending Stonehenge in the 80’s or any number of iconic moments in rock history.
If I could attend any moment in rock and roll history, which is at the end of the day a pointless fantasy, I would want to ride in the back of the VW Bus with Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt as they talked songs and drank whiskey, or sit and listen to Guy tell stories of the wild days as he made a guitar. I would want to watch Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle try to impress him with a song they had written, knowing they were performing for a true craftsman.
The first time I heard Guy Clark it was sat on the floor of Daves house in London before we went to see him with Townes Van Zandt, somewhere in the city int he 90’s. The power went out a few minutes into the set, we sat around by candlelight as two masters played. It was a magical evening and the smell of tobacco and whiskey always takes me back to that night. At least thats how I remember the night, reality may be different.
Vanilla wafers and tornados and capes and childhood and cigarettes and Dublin and knives and trains and childhood, love and lust and tomatoes and melons and Texas and friendship and cooking and guitars and most importantly stuff that works, are all subjects Guy covered in his songs. He is single handedly responsible for me and Michelle buying property to grow tomatoes on.
“Loves a gift thats surely handmade” has summed up my attitude to relationships since I heard the line.
For years I drove a beat up old Ford F150 with a rusty roof and a slider by your feet that would blast hot air on your legs in the summer and cold air in the winter because it was stuck open. I played Guy Clark as I drove and felt like a cowboy, of course I was a pale scouser living the American fantasy, not the dream that was a different car.
I once sat in a hot and sweaty room drinking Old Crow Whiskey listening to my friend cry about his love leaving him. It was his fault and he knew it and at some point we rolled out into the street and howled at the moon when Out In the Parking Lot played on the radio.
“Looks like everybody’s lookin’ for a friend out in the parking lot…”
This evening I went for a walk with Michelle and my grandson and the dog Syd up to the copse of cedars at the top of the hill. We watched the deer drink in the creek and then Cody ran pell mell down the hill skinning his knees at every twentieth step or so he climbed up, dusted himself off and took off again, nobody has told him to adjust his expectations and he knows to trust his cape.
In these strange days it is good to connect to the earthiness and class of Guy Clark. He worked at writing songs, it was a craft for him and he would always admit he had not written his last song or best one whenever he was interviewed. I shook Guys hand after his show in Portland awhile ago, he had a cold and was not feeling well but he still played a blinder of a show and had time to talk to the kid in the front and play Black Diamond Strings for him even though it wasn’t planned, he stayed until the last person had left and was courteous and gruffly gentle. I had nothing to say to him except thank you, maybe it was enough, it certainly felt that way and thats how I remember it.
“Only two things that money can’t buy, thats true love and homegrown tomatoes…”