Sometimes musical urban legends are just that — little pieces of an artist’s mythology that may never be proven true. They can still be great fodder for songwriting inspiration, though, as Nashville-by-way-of-Brooklyn artist Ben de la Cour discovered when writing for his forthcoming album The High Cost Of Living Strange (out April 6).
On new track “Guy Clark’s Fiddle,” de la Cour took a secondhand story about the beloved songwriter and made it his own, only finding the necessary inspiration to finish the tune after Clark’s passing in 2016. The plaintive story-song showcases de la Cour’s affecting, plainspoken vocals and narrative lyricism.
“I heard a story about how Guy Clark kept this fiddle in his workshop,” he says. “Supposedly he’d smashed it to pieces in the ’70s but kept it around as a reminder to never break a musical instrument. I thought that was great. So I had the idea for the song rolling around in my head for a while, and when I sat down to write it all came really fast, except for the second verse.
“The second verse took about six months. I finished it right after Guy died, at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and the next year I came back and played it on the main stage as part of a memorial to him. I went on just before Verlon Thompson, and he came up to me afterwards and said ‘I’m really glad someone wrote that song — I’ve been looking at that damn fiddle for twenty years!'”
Listen to “Guy Clark’s Fiddle” and see de la Cour’s upcoming tour dates below.
February 9 – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern
February 10 – Mobile, AL – Satori Coffeehouse
February 13 – Nashville, TN – The Local
February 14 – Knoxville, TN – Barley’s Taproom
February 15 – Newport, KY – The Southgate House Revival
February 16 – Rochester, NY – Bop Shop Records
February 18 – Cambridge, MA – Atwood’s Tavern
February 19 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine
February 20 – Washington, DC – Hill Country DC
February 21 – New York, NY – Hill Country Live
February 22 – Buffalo, NY – Sportsmen’s Tavern
February 23 – Livonia, MI – Trinity House Theatre
February 24 – Pittsburgh, PA – House Show
April 26 – Berwyn, IL – Fitzgerald’s Sidebar
April 27 – Fort Atkinson, WI – Cafe Carpe
April 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Sweeney Todd’s
May 3 – Pensacola, FL – WUWF Radio Live