Behind every great man there is a great woman rings none more true than in the case of Guy and Susanna Clark.
Atlanta, Texas-born Susanna Clark, a former art teacher and renowned songwriter for Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Miranda Lambert, Rosanne Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker and others, died Wednesday, June 27 in Nashville. She was 73, and had reported to have been in poor health in recent years.
Susanna was key to Guy Clark quitting his job at a Houston television station and focusing on songwriting. Guy Clark, a contemporary of frequent house-guest Townes Van Zandt, would go on to pen great songs such as “L.A. Freeway” (which mentions Susanna ) , “Desperados Waiting for a Train” and “Hemingway’s Whiskey” (which was later covered by Kenny Chesney.)Clark would go on to become a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Tennessean sites a Journal of Country Music interview where Susanna said “I just asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, ‘Music, I said, ‘Well, let’s do it.’ And he said, ‘That’s the first time a woman has ever asked me to quit a job.”
Her first Top 20 country hit was “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” for singer Dottsy in 1975. In 1978, she and Carlene Carter wrote “Easy From Now On” the lead track of Harris’ Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town. Most recently she wrote the title cut from Miranda Lambert’s 2007 “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Clark also put her painting talents to work creating the album cover for Harris as well as Willie Nelson’s “Stardust.”
One of my favorite scenes from the classic film “Heartworn Highways” is the scene with Texas singer/songwriters gathered at Guy and Susanna Clark’s home for a picking session on Christmas Eve 1975. Here you see Guy and Susanna in the opening scene followed by Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and Richard Dobson
Here’s a great video of Guy Clark telling a great story about Susanna and performing a song he wrote for her.