Workbench Songs: Guy Clark gives a master class in storytelling

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor

August 27, 2008 - In his latest CD, "Workbench?Songs," native Texan Guy Clark shows his fans how it's done as he spins memorable tales about tornadoes, new and lost love, and celebrating a holiday in Memphis.

"Tornado Time in Texas" came from Clark's memories of growing up in Monahans.

Verlon Thompson, Clark's long-time band member and collaborator on many songs, had written the song's first line, The sky was blacker than a funeral suit and it was hotter than a depot stove. The two of them took it from there.

"Verlon grew up in tornado alley in Oklahoma, I was born in Monahans, so we know about tornadoes," he explains.

The pace slows down a bit with "Magdalene," a plaintive ballad about running away from it all and "Funny Bone," the story of love gone bad.

Clark's sharp wit is present in "Expos," a song that obviously reflects Clark's experience with the press.

"Analog Girl" was written about a woman who refuses to join the world of computers, email and cell phones.'

"Worry B Gone" will strike a chord with those from the 1960s who tried the forbidden fruit and did inhale.

Clark shines in "Cinco de Mayo in Memphis." The song has an infectious rhythm that makes you want to take a road trip and do the cha-cha-cha up and down Beale Street.

The CD's most touching moments come in "No Lonesome Tune," a story about realizing what's important before it's too late. Clark knows what it takes to get directly to the heart of the matter.

Clark's songs tell stories. They don't get a lot of radio play, but they're honest and well worth the time it takes to figure them out.

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