It almost seems cheap to call Guy Clark a songwriter. He’s a novelist or a film director or a poet. It’s just that he works with words and music.
Clark, who celebrates his 68th birthday on Friday, is one of the all-time greats, and backed by longtime guitarist Verlon Thompson, he proved why again on Sunday at The Egg in Albany.
Time is slowly taking its toll on Clark, and he had a mid-show stretch where he had a difficult time of it – false starts on three consecutive songs. But he pulled it together, making those songs – the cubist country of “Picasso’s Mandolin” and the windy “Tornado Time in Texas” – some of the stand-out tracks of the night.
Thompson had a three-song segment all to himself, and he, too, dazzled with “Everywhere…Yet,” “Joe Walker’s Mare” and the marvelous “Ada Lee.” Obviously, he has learned his lessons well from Clark, and their duet on “Boats to Build” was a master class all by itself.
“Desperados Waiting for a Train” was as brilliant as ever, and perhaps even more poignant, as Clark has grown out of the young sidekick role and into the role of the wise elder statesman.
“Let Him Roll,” a request was yelled out from the sadly small crowd.
Clark cocked his head to the side and a devilish smile briefly crossed his lips. “One wrist-slitter after another?,” he asked. “Well, OK.”
Elizabeth Cook opened the show with a spunky 35-minute set that was full of sass and twang and charm. Backed by Tim Carroll on exquisitely tasteful electric guitar, she served up classic Loretta/Tammy/Dolly-like country songs with a decidedly 21st century attitude, including her classic “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman” and the new “When You Say Yes to Beer, You Say No to Booty.”
She tossed in a lovely cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning,” did a little bit of tap-dancing and pretty much summed up the state of contemporary music with “Times Are Tough for Rock and Roll” and the lyric, “All my feelings/All my fears/Were confirmed by Britney Spears.”
And that’s why Guy Clark is so much more than a songwriter.
You can read my review in the Times Union.
GUY CLARK SET LIST
Somedays You Write the Songs
Stuff That Works
Tornado Time in Texas
Boats to Build
Everywhere…Yet – Verlon Thompson
Ada Lee – Verlon Thompson
Joe Walker’s Mare – Verlon Thompson
Desperadoes Waiting For a Train
Let Him Roll