Picks and Pans Review: Old Friends

updated 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Guy Clark

Go figure. Clark has written some of the best songs in country music—"Desperadoes Waiting for a Train," "Heartbroke," "L.A. Freeway"—and he has an ingratiating, leathery singing voice that speaks of long hours spent emptying glasses and trying to puzzle out the universe. So how come he hasn't released an album in six years? This one is a model of smart country music. Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash, who could make lesser singers than Clark sound inspired, provide elegant harmony vocals on a half-dozen of the record's 10 tunes. The songs come from such writers as Joe Ely ("The Indian Cowboy") and Townes Van Zandt ("To Live Is to Fly"), and the easy tone arouses thoughts of a front porch on a lazy evening, especially if that front porch were filled with terrific country musicians. Then too, Clark never goes anywhere without his sense of humor. In his "Doctor, Good Doctor" he sings about a man so distraught "I was cryin' at the Andy Griffith Show,/ and I was snappin' at the dog." The man finally resorts to a shrink: "He said quit whinin'./ He said straighten up and fly right./ He said life is not a piece of cake./ He wanted to know if my insurance was paid up./ Well I'm okay. You're okay if the check's okay./ Second best hundred dollars I ever spent." (Sugar Hill)

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