Thursday, August 1, 2013

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

My Favorite Picture of You

I started writing about music for the Montreal Gazette back in 1975 and one of the LPs I reviewed that year was Old No. 1, the first-ever album by Guy Clark, who was already a favorite songwriter of mine thanks to having heard some of his songs sung by Jerry Jeff Walker and Bill Staines. Since then, I’ve written about almost every album Guy has done over the years. I’ve also hung out with him a few times at folk festivals and interviewed him twice – once for the Gazette and once on the Folk Roots/Folk Branches radio program when he came up to Montreal to play a concert with Jesse Winchester at the Outremont Theatre in 2001.

One of those albums I’ve written about was called Old Friends. And, indeed, almost all of Guy’s albums and songs feel like old friends. They feel like old friends when you pull out one of those albums that you haven’t played for a while and they feel like old friends when you hear them for the first time. There’s something familiar and inviting about his songs when you hear them for the first time – maybe it’s “that old time feeling” Guy sang about on Old No. 1 – that turns his new songs into old friends.

And so it is on Guy’s new album, My Favorite Picture of You: 10 new Guy Clark songs (and a version of Lyle Lovett’s “Waltzing Fool” that he makes his own) that fast turn into old friends.

The title track is among the most affecting of these new songs. You can see Guy holding the particular snapshot of his wife, the songwriter and painter Susanna Clark, who passed away last year, taken maybe 40 or so years ago. In the lyrics, Guy reflects on the photo, describing her and her mood when it was taken, and turning it into a touching but powerful declaration of love.

I remember Guy telling me in one of the interviews we did that Mexican folk songs were among the first things he learned to play as kid growing up in Texas. I was reminded of that listening to “El Coyote,” another of this album’s most affecting songs – this one about impoverished Mexicans trying to find a better life only to be preyed on, exploited and deserted by human smugglers.

Guy also writes compassionately about American soldiers who came back damaged from the war in Iraq in the poignant “Heroes.”

Another highlight is “Death of Sis Draper,” co-written by Guy and Shawn Camp, a sequel to their earlier song (“Sis Draper”) about a traveling woman fiddler from Arkansas. This time, in a song that borrows the traditional fiddle tune melody to “Shady Grove,” Sis meets her maker when she’s poisoned by a jealous waitress and is buried as her guitar playing partner, Kentucky Sue, plays “Shady Grove” one last time.

Accompanying Guy on the album are such fine acoustic musicians as Verlon Thompson, who has been playing with him on stage and recordings for many years, Shawn Camp, Bryn Davies and Chris Latham, and harmony singer Morgane Stapleton.

Find me on Twitter.

And on Facebook.

--Mike Regenstreif

No comments:

Post a Comment