Wrestling With The Angel, Chapter 7

“Dublin Blues” is the title of an album and a song by songwriter, singer, guitarist & luthier, Guy Clark.

The album, Dublin Blues, was released in 1995 and was Guy’s 8th album. (His first, Old No. 1, came out in 1975.) It was recorded at EMI Studios in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by Miles Wilkinson and Guy. The 10 songs on the album were written either by Guy Clark alone or with one (or two) of six co-writers: Susanna Clark, Keith Sykes, Rodney Crowell, Jim Janosky, Jimmie Fadden and Verlon Thompson.

The song, “Dublin Blues,” is the first song on the album and was written entirely by Guy.

Musically, the song is in the key of E major and I’m pretty sure that Guy plays it with his guitar partial-capoed at the second fret (the sixth string is left open to provide its low E bass note) and fingered in the key of D. Harmonically, the chord progression of the song uses only three chords. (That is, after all, all you need for a Country song.)

Accompanying Guy’s guitar and lead vocals on the recording are: Verlon Thompson, acoustic guitar; Kenny Malone, drums & Irish drum; Travis Clark (Guy’s son), acoustic bass; Darrell Scott, acoustic guitar and penny whistle; Jonathan Yudkin, violin; Sam Bush, mandolin; and Nanci Griffith, harmony vocals.

Structurally, the song has three verses and a chorus with the chorus sung after each verse. (Nanci Griffith adds her lovely harmonies starting with the second statement of the chorus.) The instrumental introduction of the recording features Guy picking out a version of the melody from the verse of the song. He uses a bass-string guitar style that owes as much to Duane Eddy as to Maybelle Carter. The coda, or ending of the song reprises the first half of the first verse.

The lyrics of those three verses and the chorus of “Dublin Blues” are among the best that Guy Clark has ever written.

If you know anything of Guy Clark and his stature in the world of contemporary songwriting, that’s saying something.

But you should decide for yourself.

Listen.

Guy Clark was born on November 6, 1941 in Monihans, Texas.

He released his fifteenth album, My Favorite Picture Of You, in July, 2013.

If you’re a new visitor to this blog, the purpose of my Wrestling With The Angel series (or category) is to highlight and share individual songs that are on a list of mine entitled: Devastatingly Great Songs. The title phrase, “Wrestling With The Angel,” is my paraphrase of a line from a poem by Herman Melville called “Art.” You can read the complete poem in my archived post of November 4, 2011: “The Source.”

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