Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark

Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark

Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark

Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark


Winner, 2016 the Belmont Book Award, Sponsored by the International Country Music Conference

For more than forty years, Guy Clark wrote and recorded unforgettable songs. His lyrics and melodies paint indelible portraits of the people, places, and experiences that shaped him. He has served as model, mentor, supporter, and friend to at least two generations of the world's most talented and influential singer-songwriters. In songs like "Desperados Waiting for a Train," L.A. Freeway," "She Ain't Going Nowhere," and "Texas 1947," Clark's poetic mastery has given voice to a vision of life, love, and trouble that has resonated not only with fans of Americana music, but also with the prominent artists--including Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Jeff Walker, and others--who have recorded and performed Clark's music.

Now, in Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark, writer, producer, and music industry insider Tamara Saviano chronicles the story of this legendary artist from her unique vantage point as his former publicist and producer of the Grammy-nominated album This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark. Part memoir, part biography, Saviano's skillfully constructed narrative weaves together the extraordinary songs, larger-than-life characters, previously untold stories, and riveting emotions that make up the life of this modern-day poet and troubadour.


The first time I heard a Guy Clark song was on my dad’s turntable at our home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was Guy’s first album, Old No. 1. Dad’s friend Rudy brought a stack of LPs over to our house. As they debated the worth of Memphis soul versus southern rock, I sat on the floor and planted my ear against the speaker. the lyric sleeve floated on my lap as I tried to lis  ten and read at the same time. I wanted to know everything about the songs that blared out of the box, the vivid four-minute short stories about exotic people and locations.

Who was Rita Ballou and what was a slow Uvalde shuffle? “She’s a raw  hide rope and velvet mixture, walkin’ talkin’ Texas texture” was the best line I’d heard in my fourteen years. and that was just the first song. “Words and Music by Guy Clark” was clearly printed beneath each song title on the white paper sleeve. I know for sure this was the first time I understood that an artist had written the songs, and it was the beginning of my love affair with songwriters. At the end of my first listening session (I turned it over for side B, turned it back to side A, and had listened to it three times through before Dad and Rudy even noticed), “She Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” was my new theme song, and I could pretty much recite all the lyrics to the other nine tracks. I bought my own copy of Old No. 1 before the week was out.

The first time I laid eyes on Guy Clark was twenty years later. By now I lived in Nashville and worked as a music journalist at Country Weekly magazine. Dublin Blues was new, and I went over to Asylum Records to pick up a copy. As I stood at the reception desk, the big glass door opened behind me. I felt his presence before I turned around to steal a look. “Hello, Guy,” the receptionist greeted him. “You can go on back.” Guy was an imposing figure, tall and solid, with size 14 shoes holding up his six-three frame, hair thick and tousled, and an unlit cigarette between his fingers. It was then . . .

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