Guy Clark — Let Him Roll

 Posted by on August 17, 2009  Add comments
Aug 172009

Some artists inhabit the soundtrack of your life and some just echo around the street.

Guy Clark lives in my head.

Guy ClarkWe got home very late on Saturday night and opened a bottle of wine, as you do. It had been a long day, dealing with miserable life-draining bastards on the internet, and crazy, life-enhancing bastards in real life.

I put on some of my favourite bands: Eels, Rilo Kiley, Nick Cave, Grant Lee Buffalo, but at the end of everything we always fall back on the greats as the wine slips down gently and we begin to mellow out.

On Saturday night, it was Guy Clark’s turn so I thought I might bring you one or two of his classics.  He’s been part of my life’s soundtrack since I could walk upright. I met this fella one time at a laid-back gig he was playing in a dingy hotel on the north side of Dublin and I shook his hand: a true gentleman.  Once, I heard him play the Róisín Dubh in Galway with his son, Travis, who was a serious pain in the arse, complaining about the sound.

What’s that sound like? he demanded of Guy, halfway through a song.

Guy paused a moment.  It sounds like a toaster, he replied.

I met Travis after the show in the men’s toilet, and I said to him,

There’s a great line in one of your dad’s songs.

What’s that? he asked.

Quit whinin’! I said.

Some of my people hadn’t heard of the great man, and so, like eating comfort food, we sat back and let Guy’s wonderful songs revive us.

This is a man who cares about lyrics, a man who crafts a song until it’s right.

For some reason, it’s hard to find him on Youtube and I don’t know why, but not to worry. Let’s have some covers instead.  We’ll start off with the Highwaymen doing Desperados Waiting for a Train, a song I first heard Freddie White singing all those years ago.

Now here’s Johnny Cash singing the Last Gunfighter Ballad, but he doesn’t do it nearly the sort of justice Guy does.  His version is too bouncy, too country,  unlike Guy Clark’s laid-back talking-blues delivery, as he takes us through this gentle comic tragedy, but this version is the best we have right now so let’s enjoy it.

Listen through to the end.  Poor old bastard.

Here’s Bobby Bare with Let Him Roll another story that ended in a whorehouse fight.  He was a wino, tried and true

I can’t help it.  I’m a sucker for this kind of thing.  Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I don’t care.

For me, Guy Clark is up there with Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and my friends thought so too.

So that’s the story of how I banished miserable life-draining bastards from my mind and had a great night instead with good friends and good music.

And finally, here’s the man himself playing a wonderful song called the Randall Knife.  What a song.

That’s Guy Clark for you.

And finally, thanks to Gianluca in London for this interview with Guy from his radio show:

Sitting with Gianluca

  13 Responses to “Guy Clark — Let Him Roll”

Comments (13)

    You rightly delivered a mood there Bock, fantastic.
    another whining son………………
    Arlo Guthrie, something of a prick, apple fell far from the tree.
    Thanks for that , Avoid those ” life draining bastards ” at all costs, they are like the walking dead at the minute.


    You forgot Coat From The Cold

    “This lady beside me is the one I have chosen to walk through my life, like a coat from the cold” Great song

    Let Him Roll …. Brilliant, in my opinion

    Desperados Waiting for a Train … Ditto


    Bock, yes Guy Clark is right there with Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan. My favorites, Broken Hearted People, Dublin Blues, and Desperadoes Waiting For A Train. There is no other place that Guy can live but in one’s heart and head. Excellent advice that U gave Guy’s son.


    Hey Bock,

    good call. You probably already have together at the bluebird cafe, Steve Earle, townes van Zandt and Guy Clarke doing a charity gig for the interfaith dental clinic. Good music and great stories. If you don’t have it, I’d recommend it.


    Norma — We’ll do our best.

    No 8 — There’s a lot I could have mentioned. Too many. That’s the problem with a man who has such a great back catalogue.

    BSB — It seems the GC fan club is bigger than I thought.

    Mark — No actually, I haven’t got that but I’ll check it out. Thanks.

    A friend of mine once spent the entire night drinking and playing songs with Townes and Guy. I hate him.


    Well I saw Townes play in Roisin Dubh then everyone headed off to Taylors next door for a lockin. Great night but Townes manager was right. He said that he was going to drink himself to death, and he did. RIP

    I also saw Steve Earle three times in Galway. He only played there because he wanted to play the same venues Townes did on his last tour. He liked Galway so much he eventually ended up staying for about 6 months. Nice guy, easy to talk to and has his head screwed on.

    Can’t tell you much about Buddy Guy. Haven’t met him yet!


    I wish I was in Austin
    In the Chili Parlour Bar
    Drinkin’ Mad Dog Margaritas
    And not carin’ where you are

    But here I sit in Dublin
    Just rollin’ cigarettes
    Holdin’ back and chokin’ back
    The shakes with every breath



    Fell upon your brilliant insightful site and thanks to you have discoverd Guy Clark and Eels. Can you recommend more bands in this vein of quality that an ignoramus like myself could self improve on.


    Do a search in the music category and you might come across something else you like.


    Yes, Guy Clark’s songs are so vivid and the performances of them so sparse that you can virtually find yourself right into them and be a part of them. His new CD comes out in under a month so I dug up an interview I did with him when he was touring with Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt in late 2004. We’re in New York City in his hotel room on the morning of the show. Well what else do you talk to Guy Clark about except songs and how to write ‘em, so here it is, I hope you enjoy listening to it as I did doing it. Enjoy


    Thanks for that Gianluca. Much appreciated.


    I apologize, Bock.


    Travis — If you really are the son of Guy, you have no business apologising to me. This man has informed everything I ever did. He taught me how to write. He taught me how to enjoy the moment. He is the greatest.

Leave a Reply