Steve Earle offers a reverent reading of one of Guy Clark’s most personal songs, “The Randall Knife.” The latest track off Earle’s upcoming Guy, a tribute album to the late songwriter, “The Randall Knife” tells the complicated relationship between a father and son.
A track off Clark’s 1995 LP Dublin Blues, the song features a spoken-word delivery by Clark, who died in 2016. Earle speaks his way through his version too, a little gruffer and more ominous than Clark’s original, which unfolded like a campfire story. “My father was a good man/a lawyer by his trade/only once did I ever see him/misuse the blade,” Earle intones here, hinting at the “darker things” for which the titular knife was forged.
Guy, due March 29th, includes 16 of Clark’s songs as performed by Earle and his backing band the Dukes, along with special guests like Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Jerry Jeff Walker. In 2009, Earle paid tribute to one of Clark’s contemporaries — and another hero of Earle’s — with Townes, an album of Townes Van Zandt songs.
Earle recently returned from the fourth annual Outlaw County Cruise, where he performed alongside such artists as Lucinda Williams and Shooter Jennings. He and the Dukes are touring in support of Guy and have festival shows lined up at South by Southwest and the Luck Reunion in Austin and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.