Considered one of the master craftsmen of Nashville songwriting, Guy Clark is
notable for the quality rather than the quantity of his song catalog. During
the first 30 years of his career, he issued only 11 studio albums. Yet every
song on those collections is a finely polished gem, throwing off sparkling
observations and conversational turns.
Clark is a Texas native who initially began performing on the folk circuit in
Houston. In 1969, he met Susanna Clark (1939-2012), an accomplished visual
artist and soon to be a hit songwriter herself. They married in 1972. He worked
as a guitar repairman and as an art director at a television station early in
his career. He eventually became a fine woodworker, crafting hand-made
Clark initially tried his luck on the California music scene. After he was
signed as a songwriter by Sunbury Music in Los Angeles, he decided to relocate
to the company's Nashville office in 1971. His arrival helped usher in a
migration of new songwriting talent to the city. The Clarks' home became a
gathering spot for songwriters such as Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, Rodney
Crowell and Steve Earle.
Sunbury was affiliated with RCA Records, and this led to Guy Clark's first
recording contract. He issued two LPs for RCA in 1975 and 1976, then went to
Warner Bros. Records for three albums in 1978, 1981 and 1983. Although
critically acclaimed, none of his albums sold particularly well. They did,
however, provide successful songs for others, notably Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare
and Ricky Skaggs.
His 1989 album Old Friends on Sugar Hill Records earned him a Grammy
Award nomination. Signing with Asylum Records, he issued a pair of collections
in 1992 and 1995. Returning to Sugar Hill, he received a second Grammy
nomination for a 1997 live album, Keepers. The label issued two studio
CDs by him in 1999 and 2002.
His songs continued to be sung by his many admirers. Emmylou Harris, Vince
Gill, Foster & Lloyd, Brad Paisley, John Conlee, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy
Buffett are just a few who have delved into his catalog.
In 2005, the Americana Music Association honored Clark with its Lifetime
Achievement Award for Songwriting. Since then, he has had records released on
Nashville's Dualtone label. His 2006 collection, Workbench Songs, became
another Grammy nominee. In 2012, he became the subject of an all-star tribute
album, This One's for Him.