Memories of Guy Clark, from the songwriting workbench to backstage brownies

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Guy Clark has made several ACL appearances. Photo by Scott Newton/Courtesy of KLRU-TV
Guy Clark has made several ACL appearances. Photo by Scott Newton/Courtesy of KLRU-TV

Guy Clark. Photo by Scott Newton/Courtesy of KLRU-TV

Austin country singer and songwriter Monte Warden met Guy Clark in the late 1980s, as Warden’s band the Wagoneers was making inroads in Nashville. Warden reminisced about it on Tuesday upon hearing of Clark’s death at age 74.

“The night I met him, he remarked to me that Rodney [Crowell] had played him the song ‘Stout and High’ and that they both dug how historically accurate it was and that it had a rockin’ attitude,” Warden shared.

“After talking about writing together several times over the years, we finally did in 2006. I came over to his house and down to the legendary workbench [in Clark’s basement], and we talked about family, how we first met, and my new found sobriety. We spent two days working on a song we called ‘Take Heart.’ It’s a beautiful little song that I have always been so honored to have written with Guy. Never more than today.”

That’s one of many memories Austinites shared about Clark today. Check our story on for further thoughts from Clark’s peers Jerry Jeff Walker and Lyle Lovett, longtime Cactus Cafe proprietor Griff Luneburg and “Austin City Limits” executive producer Terry Lickona.

Here’s one colorful excerpt:

In 2015, Clark was inducted into the “Austin City Limits” Hall of Fame, part of the second class of inductees to the new institution launched in 2014. Clark appeared on the program seven times, first in 1977 and last on a 2008 special with Lovett, Joe Ely and John Hiatt based on the foursome’s frequent songwriters-circle tours together.

For the Hall of Fame induction ceremony last June at ACL Live, Lovett and Jason Isbell performed a few of Clark’s songs, and Lovett gave an eloquent induction speech. Clark had made the trip from Nashville to attend and was at the venue, but he wasn’t able to go onstage to accept the award.

Lickona’s official explanation at the time was that Clark “apparently had a bad reaction to a medication.” An ambulance took Clark to the hospital, where he stayed overnight but was released the next morning.

There was a little more to the story, as it turned out. “The next day, he admitted that he had eaten two marijuana brownies before the show,” Lickona said Tuesday. “Someone offered them to him, and he took them. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into.” Lickona says Clark later sent him a letter “apologizing for making a damn fool of himself. But I know he had a good laugh about it, and he told the story to friends back in Nashville.”

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