Guy Clark: 12 Essential Songs

From iconic gunfighter anthems to vulnerable proclamations of love

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"Boats to Build"

A songwriter's work is rarely ever finished, and with a literary mind like Clark's, the songs become a vivid journey to some other place and time — often a crystal-clear glimpse of the world through someone else's eyes. "Boats to Build," from the 1992 album of the same name, hits on the idea of the songwriter as restless creator of those musical vessels. "Sails are just like wings / The wind can make 'em sing / songs of life, songs of hope / songs to keep your dreams afloat," he sings over soft acoustic guitars, but makes a point to acknowledge the hard work and sweat that goes into converting those raw materials to something tangible — the vehicle for truth that can "sail into the light of day." Appropriately, seafaring poet Jimmy Buffett recorded his own version of "Boats" for his 2004 album License to Chill.

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