Guy Clark’s curtain call features unreleased demos

It’s been almost a year since legendary Texas songwriter Guy Clark passed away at 74. Since then, as the case with most deceased artists, there have been several releases done by various record labels and bootleggers.

While few of these appear to be authorized releases, perhaps the best and most special one is.

“Guy Clark: The Best of the Dualtone Years” is a collection of songs from Clark’s final four albums – 2006’s “Workbench Songs,” 2009’s “Somedays The Song Writes You,” 2013’s “My Favorite Picture Of You” and his final live album, 2011’s “Songs and Stories” – all released while Clark was on Dualtone Records.

If you’re a newcomer to Clark, this collection is a fine place to start. Though it showcases the musical poet’s later work, as opposed to his most well-known material, it contains what I consider to be some of the best songs of Clark’s career.

Just listen to a haunting song like “The Guitar,” an emotional song like “My Favorite Picture Of You” or a perfectly-delivered live version of the deep, relatable “The Randall Knife.” These songs captured Clark during one of his purest, most creative stages.

Even if you’re already a fan of Clark and have all of these albums, you’ll still want to check out this collection. It ends with three unreleased demos of songs that I never knew existed: “Just To Watch Maria Dance,” “The Last Hobo” and “Time.”

If anyone ever tells you that a song needs good production to be a great song, play them these demos. There is no production. All he did was press the record button on what could’ve been something as simple as a handheld digital recorder.

While Clark’s voice and guitar lay the foundation for these songs, he’s joined on “The Last Hobo” by, fellow country artist, Hal Ketchum, who co-wrote the song with Clark.

If these songs are any indication of what the rest of Clark’s demos are like, I would love to hear an entire album of these. It’s just the man, his guitar and his words. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Time” closes out the collection, and if you pay attention to the lyrics, it’s obvious that there’s no better way to end it. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that this was Clark’s way of not only acknowledging but accepting mortality.

“Well the trouble with time is it keeps on ticking…I’ll take all you’ve got til’ it’s gone.”

“Guy Clark: The Best of the Dualtone Years” is available now through major music retailers, as well as www.dualtone.com.