Guy Clark & Emmylou Harris

in Ex-Facebook

Once, on Facebook I wrote:

In my memories, all the best songs happened at night in Austin.

I swear it was a wintery night and I was running up I-35 from around Oltorf and I heard that simple guitar by another one of the Townes van Zandt / Doug Sahm / Gram Parsons coterie on KGSR. I was struck by how perfectly constructed the song was (Steve Earle, I now recognize being a master of the form) and how the angel’s voice (Emmylou Harris, of course) rode like a feather atop the remembering man’s voice: a voice that sounded like the lands West of Abilene wrapped in the that warm tenderness of Fort Worth uncles and that sadness of survivors at southern Baptist funerals.

I knew it was a song about friends who you love but can’t control or keep; friends whose restless natures leave them in permanent motion. I knew that it was about Townes immediately (whose peripatetic legacy I knew from the Austin press of 1997) and it struck me as a plaintive, special, perfect tribute.

“You used to say the highway was your home But we both know, that ain’t true It’s just the only place a man can go When he don’t know, where he’s travelin' to”

Guy Clark, of course, was the remembering man: a true American original.