Connections between James McMurtry, last week’s AUK Chaingang link, and Guy Clark – no longer with us, but who started out writing around 20-25 years before – are multiple and powerful. Both are key figures in the world of Texas singer-songwriting but far less well-known than they deserve. Their writing styles have the same kind of whittled-down, homespun, off-beat intensity with an occasional dollop of dour humour. And McMurtry himself and Guy Clark crossed paths on numerous occasions on the south Texas music circuit – from the mid-1980s when as a nervous young songwriter McMurtry played a kind of open-mike session in Kerrville with Clark presiding proceedings, to 20 years later, when McMurtry interviewed Clark for LoneStarmusicmagazine.com. It wasn’t just James McMurtry senior, either: his son, Curtis, also a musician, co-wrote some songs with Clark.
As for ‘Cold Dog Soup’, that was the song McMurtry played on the tribute album to Guy Clark ‘This One’s For Him’. Then when Clark died four years ago, McMurtry posted a link to the song on his Facebook account, as his way of paying homage to someone about whom McMurtry once wrote: “Guy’s voice will take you somewhere else every time you hear it.”