Tribute to Guy Clark CD is “Stuff That Works”

One of my favorite recent CD purchases is This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark (2011), which I have had on repeat play since I got it in December. This One’s for Him is a solid 2-CD collection of songs by the wonderful Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark. Although tribute albums often are hit-and-miss affairs with an uneven collection of interpretations by various artists, this one maintains a nice consistency throughout. One reason the CDs work so well is the consistency of Guy Clark’s writing, although tribute albums usually consist of well-written songs. Another reason that the listening experience is like listening to a CD by one artist is because the producers recorded live with the band and a limited number of overdubs, giving consistency throughout. Finally, the great collection holds up due to the group of artists assembled for the project. Although there are some famous singers on the collection, the producers clearly opted for talented musicians who love Clark’s music instead of just seeking big names, and the love comes through the music.

It is hard to choose a favorite song, but one of mine is Jack Ingram’s version of “Stuff that Works.” In a video no longer available on YouTube, Jack Ingram talked about his love of Guy Clark’s music, noting that the music feels “like the Truth.” The great thing about Clark’s songs is that he writes beautiful words to go with his beautiful music.

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up;
The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall;
Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel;
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall.

Artists on the CD include a who’s who of great singers and songwriters: Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, John Prine, and many more. [UPDATE: In a promotional video no longer on YouTube, Hayes Carll, who sings “Worry B Gone” on the tribute CD, talked about hanging out with Clark.]

If you are already a fan of Guy Clark’s music, you will love the CD. But if you are new to his music, the tribute CD is a great place to start. One of my favorite songs of all-time is Guy Clark’s “LA Freeway.” Radney Foster does an excellent job covering the song on the CD. I could not find his version on Youtube, so here is the songwriter’s version. He does a pretty good job too.

If I can just get off of this LA freeway,
Without getting killed or caught;
I’d be down that road in a cloud of smoke,
For some land that I ain’t bought — bought — bought.

“LA Freeway” captures the common longing for running off and being free. Even if you cannot make that kind of escape, you might come a little closer if while you’re on the road you pop in this CD.

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    5 thoughts on “Tribute to Guy Clark CD is “Stuff That Works””

    1. I love a good tribute cd. have you done a post of good ones? I am guessing that’s Guy Clark on the cover, maybe 40 years ago? If you compare his look then to, say, LMFAO’s look now, you get another reminder that I was born 15-20 years late.

    2. Yes, that is Guy on the cover as a young man. I have not yet written another post about tribute CDs but that might be an interesting topic to consider the top tribute CDs. In addition to This One’s for Him, I might include a tribute CD made with Gram Parsons’ songs from a few years ago. Thanks for the comment.

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