AUK’s Chain Gang: Guy Clark “Instant Coffee Blues”

Last week’s Chain Gang entry ‘Such Great Heights‘ by Iron and Wine leads me to a song featuring, alongside coffee to deal with its after-effects, the aforementioned wine. Guy Clark’s ‘Instant Coffee Blues‘ features on his 1975 album ‘Old No. 1‘, and is a classic song in the storytelling realm, as it takes us through a casual one night encounter, Clark singing in the first verse “And she took him home for reasons that she did not understand/And him, he had the answers but did not play his hand/For him he knew the taste of this wine very well/It all goes down so easily but the next day is hell.”

We get a strong hint that the song has autobiographical roots in the second verse, where the songwriters’ cap is clearly on, even if the rest of his clothes are not, as the story develops with the different perspectives of the ill-matched couple. “Morning – ‘Man was I drunk,’ she whispered in the shower/While he lay there and smoked his way there through the final hour/And she felt wholly empty like she’d felt it every time/And he was feelin’ just the same, ‘cept he was tryin’ to make it rhyme”.

A great song, which captures Clark’s deep empathy in his writing for all aspects of the human condition.

Author: David Jarman

Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs

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