Steve Earle has always commended his two main idols. In 2009, he dedicated a tribute album, Townes, to Townes Van Zandt and ten years later he did the same for Guy Clark with the album Guy. Earle is an unparalleled author, a fantastic poet with his signature gravelly voice and an immense songwriter whose songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Vince Gill and George Strait. Although in 2016 Clark sadly passed away, he will remain one of the best songwriters who told stories of living on the fringes of society like few others. At 19 years of age, Earle had the chance to play bass in his group.
“Townes and Guy were like Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg for me” Earle reminisces, “When it comes to mentors, I’m glad I had both. If you asked Townes what it’s all about, he’d hand you a copy of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. If you asked Guy the same question, he’d take a piece of paper and teach you how to diagram a song, what goes where. Townes was one of the all-time great writers, but he only finished three songs during the last fifteen years of his life. Guy had cancer and wrote songs until the day he died. He painted, he built instruments, he owned a guitar shop in the Bay Area where the young Bobby Weir hung out. He was older and wiser. You hung around with him and knew why they call what artists do disciplines. Because he was disciplined”.
Now 64 years of age, Steve Earle has himself become a wise man and an icon of alternative country music that is always keen to share and contribute to values, ideas, sounds and musical heritage. With his unique voice, he showcases the very best of Clark’s work here. Earle maintains a certain measure of classicism in these intense versions of the classic tracks Desperados Waiting for the Train and That Old Time Feeling and brings the album to a poignant close with Old Friends featuring just the right mix of old friends: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Terry Allen, Jerry Jeff Walker and Jo Harvey Allen. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz