Our second installment of the 2021 White Label Series is:
Songs of “Cowboy” Jack Clement
Curated by Will Oldham
The ﬁrst time I met David Ferguson on his home turf, we rendezvoused in a parking lot in central Nashville and his ﬁrst words were “Get in the car, we’re going to Cowboy’s.” I think Ferg’s car at the time was a Lincoln Continental, white. I don’t know what I expected when I reached out to reconnect with Ferg (we’d met on a session in Los Angeles a few years prior), but this unforgettable visit to the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa was nowhere in my mindscape. Ferg marched me in through the front ofﬁce, introducing me to Alamo Jones on the way, and into Cowboy’s back ofﬁce where Jack Clement held court. “Let’s pick one, Cowboy!” Ferg gently hollered, and they pulled instruments down from the wall and went right into a song I recognized from a Louvin Brothers record, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight”. Each time they hit the chorus (encouraging me to join in) both Ferg and Cowboy got these hideous grimaces on their face; their exaggerated, hilarious comical “smiles”.
Easily one of the greatest nights of music I have ever experienced was a formal celebration of the legacy of then-still-living Cowboy Jack Clement.
It was a star-studded event, and the absolute highlight was Cowboy himself getting ‘persuaded’ to hit the stage at the end of the evening to perform a handful of his standard performance repertoire, including the Rolling Stones “No Expectations” and Sandy Mason’s interior monument “When I Dream”. If you are going to pay tribute to a great musician, for god’s sake do it while s/he is alive.
David Ferguson and Jack Clement had a wild and unique relationship. Part mentor/student, part father/son, boss/employee; all friend/friend. When Jack was in his ﬁnal months, part of how Ferg processed his imminent departure was in the making of this record of songs Clement had written. (Cowboy plays dobro and sings on “Guess Things Happen That Way”) Ferg is a great friend and a great man of music, and he is generous in sharing what he has and what he knows. Nobody else could have made this record, and it ranks as one of my favorite collections of recorded songs, as well as one of my favorite representations of humanity, in music or outside of it, that I’ve been blessed to be aware and in the proximity of.
David Ferguson - Songs of “Cowboy” Jack Clement
- Gone Girl
- Guess Things Happen That Way
- Fools Like Me
- Baby Is Gone
- Somebody Bought My Old Home Town
- The Old Swimming Hole
- Ballad Of A Teenage Queen
- I Know One
- I've Got A Thing About Trains
- The West Canterbury Subdivision Blues
- Take Me Home
- The Air Conditioner Song