Cowboy Jack Clement: For Once and for All
If you’ve never heard of Cowboy Jack Clement, then you’re far from alone. When he died last August at age 82, his name was nowhere near as well known as those whose careers and lives he affected. That list would include Johnny Cash, who recorded a number of Clement’s tunes beginning in the ‘50s (Clement arranged the horn part on “Ring Of Fire”) and remained a dear friend for life. That would also include U2—who worked with Clement on their Rattle And Hum album—and Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Townes Van Zandt and Waylon Jennings. As a songwriter and producer, Clement was legendary within country music circles, but as a recording artist, he never made a dent—in fact, he only recorded a few albums under his own name. For this last one, he went all out though, assembling a dozen old-school, homey tracks with a slew of famous guests assisting, including Emmylou Harris, The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill. There’s nothing pretentious or “progressive” about it—just intimate story songs sung with a ton of heart and soul. Remember when that was enough?