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Guy Clark at the UCO Jazz Lab (Oct 21, 2010)

It’s impossible to have avoided his songs, but there’s a good chance you don’t know his voice.

That’s because many of Guy Clark’s most recognizable songs, tunes like “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” “Out in the Parking Lot” and “Heartbroke,” sailed to the top of the charts and airwaves when performed by the likes of Bobby Bare, Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson, and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs. But even if you can’t recall what Guy Clark’s voice sounds like, once you hear it — it’s unmistakable. Guy Clark is in Edmond on Saturday for an 8 p.m. show at the UCO Jazz Lab.

He’s a singer and songsmith, and a craftsman in every sense of the word. Guy Clark took apart — and put back together — the first guitar he ever owned. He’s become a world-class luthier, and he regularly plays and performs with the guitars he builds.

That hands-on approach — the personal and physical investment in the craft of music-making — is a rare thing indeed, and stems from a summer Clark once spent as a teen working as a carpenter’s apprentice in a Rockport, Texas shipyard, where he helped build wooden shrimpboats.

The skill and dedication he learned that summer was immortalized in his 1992 song and album, Boats to Build, and has followed Clark ever since.

He’s released more than 20 albums. Guy Clark’s 2006 release, Workbench Songs, was nominated for a Grammy, while his latest, last year’s Somedays the Song Writes You, is a soft, contemplative album that’s reflective without being overly nostalgic.

Guy Clark is a legend, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and plenty of others have literally sung his praises.

For the Oklahoma Gazette, Central Oklahoma's independent weekly, I'm Joe Wertz.

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