Cowboy Jack Clement

Apr 10, 2013 - Big Light Studio, Nashville, TN

Apr 10, 2013

Cowboy Jack Clement

Tracks

  1. 1 Gone Girl
  2. 2 Beautiful Dreamer
  3. 3 I Know One
  4. 4 Guess Things Happen That Way

Surrounded By A Sing-A-Long

Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by John Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee

When we look back, we hope we're going to see a long trail of love and compassion, strewn about like the clothes of an impatient skinny dipper, on the banks of a lake. We'd like there to be some applause. We'd like to see smiles and pretty dimples on the deliciously long-legged ladies. We'd like there to be fondness. We'd like for there to be some kind of awe. We'd like for the reception to be inspired. We'd love for there to be a sing-a-long. Cowboy Jack Clement has that. The music legend can look all around him and hear those gorgeous melodies that he encouraged out of his crazy heart, over decades and decades of magical music-making.

Clement, who was working at Sun Studios in Memphis during some of rock and roll's most important moments, ran the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa out of the top-floor of his Nashville home, since he moved to there from Memphis in the early 70s. He ran the place like a gathering spot for geniuses, for eccentrics, for the beautiful dreamers that he always surrounded himself with - of which he was always the biggest one. There was always something on the stove - a soup or a stew - and it was the place where Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, John Prine, Waylon Jennings and many more spent their days and nights, smoking cigarettes, singing together and telling stories. It's still a place where almost everyone's welcome. You can walk in the front door and no one will bat an eye as long as you don't let any of Jack's cats out. It's a place that oozes magic and history and you feel it the second you go up the stairs to the vaulted ceilinged attic studio. It's been renovated since a fire destroyed it and priceless master tapes by the likes of Cash, Prine, Louis Armstrong, Charley Pride, and many others. There's no fire that could burn the spirit out of that room.

This past January, two days before his friends honored Cowboy with a rousing tribute show, we gathered some of his old buddies into this treasured studio for what could be one of his last sessions. He was in fine form, but he always is when he's playing, when he's singing. It's when all of the pain from the cancer goes away. It's when he feels as well as he's going to feel. When he sings, he's happy. He performed "I Know One," which made Pride a household name. He played "Guess Things Happen That Way," which Cash turned into a hit. He played the spectacular single, "Gone Girl," and the old parlor song from the mid-1800s, "Beautiful Dreamer," a song that should have been written by Clement. It's pure Cowboy and it goes:
"Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd away!
Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life's busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea,
Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelei
Over the streamlet vapors are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.
Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E'en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

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