Guy Clark: 12 Essential Songs

From iconic gunfighter anthems to vulnerable proclamations of love

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Clark's second Warner Bros. LP, The South Coast of Texas, released in 1981, was a thoroughly engaging flirtation with musical styles from folk and Western swing to bluegrass. It also produced Clark's sole country Top 40 hit as an artist, "The Partner Nobody Chose," and "She's Crazy for Leavin'," a late-Eighties Number One (and co-write) for album producer Rodney Crowell. In 1980, Crowell was the first to record the album's "Heartbroke," but it was Ricky Skaggs' swingin' version that topped the charts. Both Skaggs' take on the song and George Strait's contemporaneous exploration in 1982 on Strait From the Heart offered a radio-friendly reading of the line "pride is a bitch and a bore when you're lonely" — in Strait's case, he changed "bitch" to "drag." But the emotional weight of Clark's lyric still rang clear.

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