Famous Friends Celebrate Guy Clark’s New Album

Workbench Songs Already in Running for a Grammy

The combined royalties of the songwriters who turned out Thursday (Dec. 14) to toast fellow composer Guy Clark would go a long way toward paying off the national debt. Held at ASCAP’s Nashville headquarters, the celebration focused on Clark’s recently released CD, Workbench Songs.

Among the high-profilers raising their glasses to Clark were Lee Clayton (“Ladies Love Outlaws”), Earl Bud Lee (“Friends in Low Places”), Wayland Holyfield (“Could I Have This Dance”), Pat Alger (“The Thunder Rolls”), Shawn Camp (“How Long Gone”), Jack Clement (“Guess Things Happen That Way”) and Vince Gill (choose your own hit to fill in the blank).

Also leading the applause were producer, author and folk music pioneer Jim Rooney and Clark’s frequent writing partner, Verlon Thompson.

“It’s great to see everybody in this room, and it’s great to live in a world with Guy Clark,” declared ASCAP representative Herky Williams, who reeled off some of Clark’s many achievements, including a current Grammy nomination for best contemporary folk/Americana album.

Scott Robinson, co-president of Dualtone Music Group, Clark’s label, told the crowd that he had been working for the past five years to give Clark a record deal. He beckoned Clark, who still seemed weakened from a recent illness, to come to the front of the room. (Clark, who earlier this year was diagnosed with lymphoma, has a full touring schedule planned for 2007.)

Although Clark declined to say anything, he stood there patiently, looking amused by all the praise and the stories being told about him.

Clark’s publisher, Gary Overton of EMI Music Publishing, said that during his first week at the helm of that publishing company some 11 years ago, he saw this figure moving toward him “like a Texas tumbleweed.”

Clark opened the conversation, Overton recalled, by asking, “Gary, you run this place?” When Overton confirmed that he did, Clark demanded, “You want to mess around a couple of years, or you want to kick me out right now?” Overton’s answer is evident in the fact that Clark has just celebrated his 25th year with EMI.

Much later, Overton continued, he looked up to see Clark standing in front of him and wearing a most uncustomary cowboy hat.

“You looking for a country record deal?” he asked the looming Texan.

“Oh, hell no,” Clark snorted. “It’s just cancer.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.