The last week I have been in a deep dive of watching Austin City Limits Classic ACL YouTube Playlist.
Growing up with a dad in the music industry, he always went on and on about how iconic old Austin City Limits episodes are. Watching the tapings in his youth was a massive part of his music discovery experience.
I thought it was about time I took it into my own hands to educate myself and see how iconic they are. The verdict is….drum roll please…my old man was right. I know I am late to hop on this bandwagon, but here I am.
These archives quickly became my new comfort videos, especially Guy Clark’s “L.A. Freeway” from the 1983 Songwriters Special.
“L.A. Freeway” was written in 1970 and depicted his thoughts as he moved from California to Nashville, Tennessee. Jerry Jeff Walker originally recorded the song in 1972 on his self-titled album, and then Clark released it on his debut album, Old No. 1, in 1975.
Clark is accompanied on stage by John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Rodney Crowell, Bill Caswell, and Keith Sykes. What I would pay to go back in time to be in that room full of greats.
The video is simple, the singing feels effortless, and the room is quiet as Clark sings the song’s powerful words. The simplicity of the other artists helping strum allows Clark to focus on the words he wrote 13 years prior.
I can go on and on about this performance, but you might as well see it for yourself.
The whole episode is a must-watch if you’re a fan of songwriter showcases.