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onsdag den 15. juni 2016

Mere end sangskrivernes sangskriver. Guy Clarks aske bliver til en skulptur

Det er efterhånden en måned siden, at den texanske roots- og folksangskriver, Guy Clark, døde af lymfekræft. Tamara Saviano, der har job i musikindustrien, har med bistand fra hovedrolleindehaveren, de seneste syv-otte år, arbejdet på en biografi. Bogen, der kommer til at hedde ‘Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark’, kan man allerede nu forudbestille på Amazon, selvom den først står til udgivelse i oktober.

Her følger Savianos fortælling om, hvordan hun og flere af Clarks gode venner, sørgede for, at Clarks sidste ønske gik i opfyldelse:

“Guy had suffered from a long list of health problems—lymphoma, heart disease, diabetes, and bladder cancer among them—and we were lucky to have him years longer than we’d expected. The last three months of his life were especially brutal; he spent most of them in a nursing home. By the end, Guy’s only goal was to go home to die—to be in the place he loved, surrounded by his art, books, and music. With the help of friends and hospice workers, he made it.

It didn't become real to me until I saw Guy's body at the funeral home two days after his death. In the last months, he had become thin and frail. Yet, plumped up with embalming fluid, he looked like Guy Clark again. How weird is that? Because he was going to be cremated, he was laid out in a simple box just for a short time so a few of us could see him. The funny thing is, Guy is so dang tall they had to take his boots off to fit him in the box. The top of his head was pressed against one end of the box and his feet pressed against the other. Guy Clark does not fit in a box.

Guy’s last wishes were clear. At some point in his waning years, his lyrical request —“Susanna, oh Susanna, when it comes my time, won’t you bury me south of that Red River line” —changed to instructions to be cremated, with his cremains sent to Terry Allen to be incorporated into a sculpture. “I think that would be so fucking cool,” Guy said at the time. “Sure, leave me with a job to do,” Terry joked.

But it’s no joke now. In the days after his death, Guy’s closest friends pulled together a plan to honor his wishes. Jim McGuire hosted a wake—a typical Guy Clark picking party, one of many that took place at McGuire’s studio over the years. Guy’s family and Nashville friends gathered around an altar on which we’d placed his ashes, his old boots, and our favorite picture of him, and we took turns playing Guy Clark songs. At the end of the night, Verlon led a chorus of “Old Friends” that knocked the wind out of the room.

At midnight, Verlon, Shawn, McGuire, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Guy’s son, Travis, his caregiver, Joy, and I boarded a tour bus in Nashville that would take us—and Guy—to Santa Fe and Terry Allen. Guy’s last road trip. We slept little during the 18-hour drive; we all had too many Guy stories we wanted to tell. Grief shared is grief diminished.

We arrived in Santa Fe in time for dinner on Wednesday, May 25. Terry, his wife, Jo Harvey, and their son, Bukka, hosted another wake. Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, his partner, April Kimble, Robert Earl and Kathleen Keen, Joe and Sharon Ely, their daughter, Marie, Jack Ingram, and painter Paul Milosevich flew in from all parts to be there. We set up another altar, gathered around and told more Guy stories.

After a feast of green chili enchiladas, tamales, guacamole, and homemade salsa, we huddled around a fire pit on the stone and adobe patio. Hanging wisteria perfumed the air as old friends toasted Guy, clinking glasses of wine against bottles of Topo Chico and cans of Robert Earl Keen beer. Under a night sky blanketed with stars, a guitar came out. This time there was a rule, and it was simple. “Play a song Guy would have made you play,” Steve said. Three among this group had written songs about Guy. Shawn sang “This Guy, Guy,” written with Gary Nicholson. (They got to play it for Guy shortly before his death. When they’d finished, he deadpanned, “Well, isn’t that cute.”) Next, Verlon played his ode, “Sideman’s Dream.” Then Vince shared the song he wrote, "There Ain't Nothing Like a Guy Clark Song," one that provides a perfect benediction to the master songwriter’s life. Through these songs—and many more of his own—there's no doubt Guy Clark will live forever." 

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