Cowboy Jack Clement, the legendary songwriter and producer who worked with Johnny Cash, Charley Pride and U2, died this week at the age of 82 (read our American Icons column on Clement here).
Below, singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier recalls seeking out the Cowboy twelve years ago, and reflects on their friendship.
“I met Cowboy Jack Clement when I moved to Nashville in 2001 – I went looking for him. He invited me into his house, The Cowboy Arms & Recording Spa, and played me the movie that was made about his life, Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan: Cowboy Jack Clement’s Home Movies. We stayed up very late watching it, and he laughed out loud at all the funny parts and I couldn’t believe I was sitting with him in his office in the middle of the night like we were old friends. It was surreal and as fine a way to start a friendship as I’d ever known. He played me some unreleased Louis Armstrong songs that he’d recorded, and we listened to some old Johnny Cash stuff, from the Sun years. What a welcome to Nashville that was, what a wonderful memory it will always be. Cowboy was the most original, eccentric, hysterical, visionary clown I’ve ever met. His contributions to the American songbook are immeasurable, and I doubt there’d be an Americana Genre without him. I’ll be forever grateful that there ever was a Cowboy Jack . . . as unlikely a human being as God ever made. We had him for 82 years, and for that we can only say thank you, thank you.”