7 Songs You Didn’t Know Guy Clark Wrote for Other Artists

Throughout his 50-year career, Guy Clark crafted stories of bygone eras, of people and places long gone, and his own American anthems through the ages.

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A pioneer of Americana music, Clark helped define the genre from his early stories in songs like “Desperados Waiting for a Train” and “L.A. Freeway.”

[RELATED: Behind the Song: “L.A. Freeway” by Guy Clark]

Born Nov. 6, 1941, in Monahans, Texas, Clark began his career as a songwriter in Nashville, mentoring and writing songs for artists like Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle. Clark released his debut Old No. 1 in 1975, and 13 more albums through his 14th and final release, My Favorite Picture of You, in 2013.

Clark assembled a generation of songs that have connected with artists across genres, and his stories have been retold through many renditions by country music greats, including Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, and Chris Stapleton, among other artists. 

Before Clark’s death in 2016 at 74, he picked up the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for My Favorite Picture of You.

Over the years, Clark continued writing songs for other artists, including his last one, “Cheer Up Little Darling” which was co-written with Pistol Annies’ Angaleena Presley and released on her 2017 album Wrangled.

To honor the folk and country troubadour, here’s a look at just seven songs Clark wrote for other artists during his career, which span 40 years from The Everly Brothers through Alan Jackson.

1. “A Nickel for the Fiddler,” The Everly Brothers (1972)
Written by Guy Clark

Though Clark released his own version of his song “A Nickel for the Fiddler” on his debut Old No. 1, it was first recorded and released by The Everly Brothers three years earlier on their album Pass the Chicken & Listen. Also featuring tracks by John Prine, Buddy Holly, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings, Clark’s “A Nickel for the Fiddler” told the story of an 83-year-old man still busking with his fiddle.

It’s fountains full of dogs and kids
And it’s freaky apple pie
It’s the ones just come to play
And it’s the ones just passin’ by
It’s coats of many colours
And it almost makes me cry
It’s ice cream on a stick
And it’s something you can’t buy

It’s a fiddler from Kentucky
Who swears he’s 83
And he’s fiddled every contest
From here to Cripple Creek
It’s old ones and it’s young ones
And it’s plain they have agreed
That it’s country music in the park
As far as they can see

2. “Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool You,” Townes Van Zandt (1972)
Written by Guy Clark

The Late Great Townes Van Zandt features Zandt’s signature track “Pancho and Lefty,” a song Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson later covered and took to No. 1 on the country charts in 1983. Also on the album was a nearly two-and-a-half-minute ditty called “Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool Ya,” which Clark wrote for Van Zandt. Clark’s wife Susanna, who had a close friendship with Van Zandt, also co-penned the closing track “Heavenly Houseboat Blues.”

Now, me and this friend named Street Life Brown
We got a bottle of red and walked uptown
One hand on the jug and one on time
He said, “I bet you a dollar against this next line”

I said, “Don’t let the sunshine fool you
Don’t let the bluebirds tool you
Don’t let the women do you
Put your hand in mine”

3. “Heartbroke,” Rodney Crowell (1980)
Written by Guy Clark

Rodney Crowell’s second album, But What Will the Neighbors Think, in 1980 was mostly written by him with the exception of the two covers, including Keith Sykes’ “Oh What a Feeling” and the Hank DeVito-penned hit “Queen of Hearts”—made famous by Juice Newton in 1982. In the mix was also an upbeat heartbreak song written by Clark for Crowell called “Heartbroke.”

Guy Clark later recorded his own version of “Heartbroke” for his 1981 album South Coast of Texas. A year later, it became a No. 1 hit for Ricky Skaggs, and George Strait also covered the song on his second album Strait From The Heart.

Who wouldn’t notice the fire in your eyes
Or the bitter directions of impending goodbyes

I’m fallen and folded I’m wilted in place
At the sight of you standing with streaks down your face
You got your heartbroke running from the reason
Heartbroke don’t give up on believing in me
Heartbroke who kept me from leaving with my heartbroke
Pride is a bitch and a bore when you’re lonely
Sheer madness prevails upon reason to yield

4. “Oklahoma Borderline,” Vince Gill (1985)
Written by Guy Clark, Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell

Vince Gill‘s 1985 debut The Things That Matter brought him some of his first top 10 hits, including his Rosanne Cash duet, “If It Weren’t for Him” (No. 10), and “Oklahoma Borderline.” Written along with Clark and Rodney Crowell, “Oklahoma Borderline” reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Clark later penned “Sight for Sore Eyes” for Gill’s third album, When I Call Your Name.

Well it’s rainin’ down in Houston
And I got holes in both my shoes
Baby’s put me on the street
She says “I’m through with you”
She thinks I’m gonna miss her
Someone tell her that she’s wrong
I’m goin’ back to Oklahoma, boys
‘Cause that’s where I belong
I need one good ride
I’ll be satisfied
Come on Oklahoma borderline
If we roll all night
She’ll be comin’ into sight
Come on Oklahoma borderline

5. “I Take My Comfort in You,” Waylon Jennings (1986)
Written by Guy Clark and Wayland Holyfield 

Off Waylon Jennings’ 1986 album, Sweet Mother Texas, which featured the country outlaw‘s renditions of Kris Kristofferson’s “Living Legend” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” there were also a number of original tracks, including Clark’s uptempo “I Take My Comfort in You.”

I don’t drink campaign in crystal glasses
I don’t sowed my beans in a silver pot
You won’t catch me climb to the social classes
I don’t spend money that I ain’t got

I don’t waste my time with yesterday’s troubles
I just try to do the job and hang
I ain’t delegate that I ain’t sudden
But I do the best I can

6. “All Through Throwing Good Love After Bad,” Tammy Wynette (1987)
Written by Guy Clark and Richard C. Leigh

On Tammy Wynette‘s 27th album, Higher Ground, the closing track is one of the more stirring in the collection of songs. “All Through Throwing Good Love After Bad” is a moving ballad reflecting on regrets, and wasted time with bad loves. Clark recorded his own version of the moving track for his 1988 album, Old Friends, and again on his live album, Live from Austin, TX, in 1989.

Oh, Lord, won’t you look what I’ve found?
Staring me right in the face
Yeah’ I’m through being lonely, I’m through being sad
I’m all through throwing good love after bad

Now I think of all the time I have wasted wearing my heart on my sleeve
Trusting my heart to the kindness of strangers, oh, was so naive

7. “Talk Is Cheap,” Alan Jackson (2012)
Written by Guy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Morgane Stapleton

Alan Jackson named his 17th album, Thirty Miles West, after the stretch of the Dixie Highway near his hometown of Newnan, Georgia. Though it wasn’t released as a single, “Talk Is Cheap” was co-written for Jackson by Clark and Chris Stapleton and his wife Morgane; Stapleton also co-wrote the opening Thirty Miles West track, “Gonna Come Back as a Country Song.”

Talk about life, talk about death
Talk about catching every breath
Talk about when, and talk about why
Talk about do, and talk about don’t
Talk about will and talk about won’t
Talk about the sweet by and by

Well, talk is cheap and times are wasting
Get busy living or at least die trying
Wine is for tasting, roads for taking
Talk is cheap and times are wasting

Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns

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