VERSIONS: “Anyhow, I Love You”


Versions: Anyhow, I Love You

Martin Johnson recently ranked Guy Clark at the top of his greatest ever americana artists list. The next available evening found me playing my favourite Guy Clark song and watching the documentary ‘Heartworn Highways’. And going down a rabbit hole.

The ‘Heartworn Highways’ documentary (1975) is dated but the music is timeless. It’s a documentary on the late 70’s ‘Outlaws of Americana’ who turned their backs on the rhinestone sparkle of Nashville, moved out to the boondocks, and developed into some great songwriters and musicians. You watch Townes already well on the way to being wasted and meet a fresh-faced Steve Earle ten years before ‘Guitar Town’. Soon to emulate Townes with his own abuse of substances. Guy’s there, two great albums in and already a highly regarded songwriter and performer. A skilful luthier to boot.

‘Anyhow, I Love You’ was recorded for ‘Texas Cookin’ in 1976 with Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings on backing vocals. Journeyman Jennings singing harmony and playing guitar just adds to the magic of the recording for me. The priceless backing on ‘Anyhow, I Love You‘ includes Rodney Crowell who also appears in the documentary. It’s an uplifting, sincere love song but quite matter of fact. Anyhow, I love you… as in anyhow, that’s all I’ve got to say. And there’s that magnificent pause at the end of the second verse before the… Don’t.

I wish I had a dime for every bad time
But the bad times always seem to keep the change
You’ve been all alone so you know what I’m sayin’
And when all you can recall is the pain
Just you wait till tomorrow when you wake up with me
At your side and find I haven’t lied about nothin’
And I wouldn’t trade a tree 
for the way I feel about you in the mornin’, 
Anyhow, I love you
And everyday it gets just a little bit better
And half the gettin’ there is knowin’ where I been before
Well I’m sure you understand ’cause I ain’t your first man
And when you feel like runnin’ for the back door…don’t

Guy Clark (1977)

Lyle Lovett (2011)

The song trail soon begins to list off some worthy contenders to the best ever list. The first version is from ‘This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark‘ released in 2011. An album that celebrated Clark’s 70th birthday. The tribute included 30 tracks by 33 americana artists who were friends of Clark or who had been influenced by his remarkable songwriting. Fellow Texan Lyle Lovett does a reasonable job but a very limp…Don’t.

Steve Earle (2019)

43 years down the highway Steve Earle decides to pay tribute to his teacher with ‘Guy’. And later on he pays tribute to Waylon Jennings on ‘So You Wanna be an Outlaw’. Earle says he was around when Jennings was recording ‘Dreaming My Dreams’. ‘Guitar Town‘ wound up, “being kind of my version of those types of songs” he told Saving Country Music in 2017. In that time, Earle has definitely become an Americana Great and worthy of a seat at Guy Clark’s heavenly, kitchen table. A very reasonable, heartfelt job but again its that last word.

The Wild Feathers (2018)

Guy Clark’s has left his mark deep on the trunk of americana. Established and new artists continue to cite Clark as an influence. The Wild Feathers bumptiously paid tribute to this song and you can feel how much it means to them all. But the lesson to be learned for any artist considering a cover version of this song for mass consumption is maybe… DON’T.

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Martin Johnson

I’m glad the list prompted you to go down the rabbit hole Andy.