guy clark's finger gun

Guy Clark

Guy Clark


I was in my very early 20's
and The Great Divide
had our first show in the Fort Worth
Stockyards

the White Elephant Saloon

I thought the dance floor
was the stage
and the stage was the drum riser

'what the hell are you doing?'
someone yelled from behind
the bar

it was so small....

but we played
and on our break
someone told me Larry Joe Taylor
was playing up the street
at the Longhorn Saloon

I had met Larry a few times
and he was always cool to me
so we went to check it out...

while we are watching his
show, I noticed that Guy Clark
was standing by himself over by
a railing,
listening

Larry later introduced me to him
and I was starstruck and
dumbfounded

one of the greatest songwriters
that ever drew a breath...
I was a huge fan

I asked him for his autograph
and he wrote, 'Break a Heart, 
Guy Clark.'

later that evening, 
Larry Joe told me that Guy
was going to hang around afterwards
and pick the acoustic after they
closed the doors

so at the end of the evening,
the owner ran everyone out except
for a couple of people, The Great Divide
and Guy

there's just one acoustic
and he starts playing
'Dublin Blues' as we pulled our
chairs around him

I had JUST started writing songs,
and none of them were very
good

Guy played L.A. Freeway for us...
and then he handed me the guitar
and told me to play the best song
I had...

I did, and he was polite enough about it
as he continued to disappear into the
club office
and come back...
and disappear...
and come back...

he said, 'this song is my yardstick,'
and played 'she ain't going nowhere'. 

I played some other crappy song of mine
and then being young and green
said something like, 
'I just haven't been around enough, or done
enough to write about.' 

to which he replied, 'bullshit,'

and snatched the guitar out
of my hands

then he played Bruce Springsteen's
'Racing in the Streets'
and told me to listen up
 

"I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396
Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
She's waiting tonight down in the parking lot
Outside the Seven-Eleven store
Me and my partner Sonny built her straight out of scratch
And he rides with me from town to town
We only run for the money, got no strings attached
We shut 'em up and than we shut 'em down

Tonight, tonight the strip's just right
I wanna blow 'em off in my first heat
Summer's here and the time is right
For racin' in the street   "  - Bruce Springsteen

 

I then played a song that I was working on,
and it was terrible

Guy leaned in and was only a few
inches from my face
as he put his finger up to his head
like it was a gun
and pulled the trigger

then he slumped in his chair

I was absolutely devastated

embarrassed

defeated

my suck ass song
drove Guy Clark to
feign suicide

he played several more
and it was time to go
as the sun was starting
to peak in through
the neon

I was slouching out of the
front of the club
when I heard him say, "Hey!'

I turned around and he grabbed
me in the doorway
with a bear hug...
leaning into me
so I would get it...

"You can write o.k., you just aren't
showing your ass. Once the audience
hears you showing your OWN ass
and speaking from your own heart, they will
connect with you and with what you are saying. 
they will feel that vulnerability and it will
ring out as truth...because it is.'

later that night, I went out
and sat on a small landing
strip beside our hotel
called The Sand Piper Inn

by myself

I cried like a baby

I felt like a schmuck
and a hack
and a never gonna be

I sat there
for a long time

and I thought about what he said

as was Mr. Clark's way...
he was right the fuck on

I thought of him sitting there
every time I would write
a song and think about showing
someone

I'd see that finger gun
come up and
kill Guy

and that look
in his eyes
that just said, 
'what the fu.....'

I still think about him when
I write

that was the best piece of
writing advice
anyone every gave me

it hurt,
but made me better

Guy Clark died
earlier this month
and I thought about
that night
for the millionth time...

he influenced
a ton of songwriters
and was a master of his craft

I'm thankful for that night
in Fort Worth
and for the education
that I received

Rest in Peace, Sir

or however you'd like
to play it