Guy Clark is a songwriter from West Texas writer who wrote “LA Freeway,” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” among many other country music hits. 

Guy Clark is a songwriter from West Texas writer who wrote “LA Freeway,” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” among many other country music hits. 

AP Photo/Dualtone
Get to know Guy Clark's legendary Texas songwriting

Nashville singer and songwriter Guy Clark has died, the Tennessean reports. The country crooner had been in poor health and died at age 74, according to the Associated Press. No official cause of death is yet known.

Clark has written songs recorded by country greats Johnny Cash, George Strait, Willie Nelson and many more. His slow, heart-wrenching "Desperados Waiting for a Train" is an example of his expert storytelling.

Texas transplant Jerry Jeff Walker was, in fact, the first artist to record Clark's song "Desperados Waiting for a Train," on his influential 1973 album Viva Terlingua. The song was later recorded by The Highwaymen (Cash, Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson) as well as by Nanci Griffith and by Clark himself.

Clark was born in a small West Texas town called Monahans, and CMT says many of his songs were about his Lone Star State upbringing. "Desperados Waiting for a Train" is about a grandfather-like figure in his life. His "Texas 1947" recounts the dusty afternoons when people in his small Texas town would wait for the train to fly by.

Guy Clark, right, and Vernon Thompson perform at Poor David's Pub in Dallas in 2012.

Guy Clark, right, and Vernon Thompson perform at Poor David's Pub in Dallas in 2012.

Rex C. Curry/Special Contributor

Clark made regular stops in the Dallas area over the years, most regularly at Poor David's Pub. 

David Card of Poor David’s says Clark's set at the music venue's 25th anniversary show in 2002 was "mesmerizing." 

“He did two full sets," Card said. "... When he quit, he said, ‘I have to quit. I don’t know any more songs.'”

Clark has also played larger shows at the Kessler Theater, the Granada Theater and Bass Performance Hall.

On Guy Clark's Facebook page, his staff calls him a "fearless raconteur" who moved from Monahans, Texas, to Rockport, Texas, near the Gulf, as a teen. Clark played football and basketball and ran track and field in high school. Actually, he seemingly did it all: "He won science fairs, joined the Explorer’s club, presided over the junior class as president, acted in school plays, excelled on the debate team, illustrated the yearbook, and fell in love with Mexican folk songs and the Flamenco guitar," the post says.

Clark didn't leave Texas for good until he was in his early 20s, in 1971, when he moved to Nashville. He wrote "Desperados" early in his career, then a few years later found hits with "She Ain't Going Nowhere," among others. His "Homegrown Tomatoes" -- possibly one of his best known songs of the '80s -- hit the Billboard country charts in 1983, says the Tennessean.

Clark was a friend to Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt and many other musicians. 

According to Clark's staff, "For more than 40 years, the Clark home was a gathering place for songwriters, folk singers, artists and misfits; many who sat at the feet of the master songwriter in his element, willing Guy's essence into their own pens. Throughout his long and extraordinary career, Guy Clark blazed a trail for original and groundbreaking artists and troubadours including his good friends Rodney Crowell, Jim McGuire, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Joe Ely, Lyle Lovett, Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp, and Vince Gill."

Clark sings in "Somedays You Write the Song":

There's no rhyme or reason
Ain't a damn thing you can do
Some days you write the song
Some days the song writes you.

The funeral is being arranged now, the Facebook note says.

Clark bio, documentary on the way

Clark had been collaborating with Grammy-winning music producer and friend Tamara Saviano on what she called a “definitive biography,” planned for release later this year. Called Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark, it will be out in October on Texas A&M University Press. Saviano also says a documentary film about Clark is still in the works.

The book will be enlightening for anyone who’s followed Clark’s extraordinary writings and performances, Saviano says.

“Guy didn’t talk about himself much, and my hope is that the book will allow readers to get to know him better, to learn about how every aspect of his life contributed to his artistry” she said.

“Guy lived to be an artist, a poet. It’s what he cared about above anything else.”

- Hunter Hauk

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