Stuff That Works
Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you don’ t hang on the wall
Stuff that’ s real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall
Chorus: “Stuff That Works”. Written by Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell
If I could have written any song, I wish I would have written this one. “Stuff That Works” is a place that I can go when nothing else seems to be working. The song is about gratitude and appreciation for the things that we already have. How many times have I taken someone or something for granted only to later realize that I miss it/them when no longer around.
I got an ol’ blue shirt and it suits me just fine
I like the way it feels so I wear it all the time
I got an old guitar, won’ t ever stay in tune
I like the way it sounds in a dark and empty room
The song opens up with this verse. The old blue shirt. Perhaps Guy’s signature. Wrangler Denim. Faded cotton. On the Album cover of his debut album Old Number 1, there’s a painting done by Guy’s wife Susanna Clark of this “old blue shirt.” The shirt hanging alone offset in the portrait. On the album cover, a young Guy Clark stands proud near that painting wearing what else? “An Old Blue Shirt”
I have a shirt like this myself. It is most likely the most comfortable shirt that I own. I can think back to my childhood and recall my own father wearing similar shirts. The old blue shirt is stuff that works. I don’t suppose they have ever gone out of style. The shirt is worn and holds up to the times. I have seen the shirts worn by Welders and Cowboys, Mechanics, Country singers and regular guys like me.
I got an old pair of boots and they fit just right
Well I can work all day and I can dance all night
I got an ol’ used car and it runs just like a top
I get the feelin’ it ain’ t ever gonna stop
I have driven the same ol’ pickup truck since 2013. Sure I have to replace a transmission, serpentine belt and a water pump. More recently I got new brake drums and front rotors. I have wrecked it and repaired it. It still runs good and it gets me where I need to be. Sure I would like something a little newer, a little fancier. I had a pretty good offer not long ago when I thought I needed something new. The trucks I am looking for today, are the cost of what I think my house is worth! I don’t know how anyone can afford to drive the top of the line Ford or Chevy. Sometimes I feel jealous or envious but that is beside the point. Responsibly I chose to keep my “ol’ truck.” Hell it is paid for. I got the feelin’ it ain’t never gonna stop.
I got a pretty good friend who’s seen me at my worst
He can’ t tell if I’ m a blessing or a curse
But he always shows up when chips are down
That’s the kind of stuff I like to be around
I am usually a pretty likeable guy. I am easy to get along with. Mostly, I am non judgemental towards others. I like to think these are pretty good qualities about myself. I am blessed to have a few. Perhaps three or maybe four men that I can think of that fit this quality. “A pretty good friend who’s seen me at my worst.”
The man I consider my very best friend has a wife who likes to say that I have no filter. Yet even being filterless, he chooses to be my friend. I can talk to him about anything on my mind. Sometimes I don’t want to hear what he chooses to tell me back. He calls me on my bullshit. He can be as honest with me as I am with him. He gives sound advise based on his own experiences of this place we call life. I know he will be here until the end. Every time, I need him.
Friends for life are a treasure. Hold on to that.
I got a woman I love she’ s crazy, paints like God
She’ s got a playground sense of justice, she won’ t take odds
I got a tattoo with her name right through my soul
I think everything she touches turns to gold
Of course, when Guy wrote this line, he is talking about Susanna. Susanna was a brilliant painter. She was a friend to any and all. She had qualities that influenced many other singer/songwriters. Townes Van Zandt loved her as much as Guy himself did. Rodney Crowell and Steve Earl would later agree that a song wasn’t completely written until it had Susanna’s seal of approval.
I’ve got a woman I love. It took me many years and many women. This certainly isn’t my first marriage. I pray each day and work harder than I ever have on this relationship so that it will be my last.
We aren’t always perfect. Is anyone’s marriage perfect?
We try and try again. I met her many years ago and for many years, we were just friends. I think that our friendship is one of our biggest bonds. I could consider her in the previous verse she could also fit into that category of someone who has seen me at my worst. She makes me my best. When I am with her, I have the strength and the courage to do anything I set my mind to do.
We have a marriage that is strong because we work hard each day to put God at the center. We are learning to communicate, to listen to each other and to hold each other accountable. I knew from the moment I saw her that I loved her. I have worn that “Tattoo” across my soul for the last 12 years and I will wear that for the rest of my life.
Stuff that works, Stuff that holds up, That’s the kind of stuff I like to be around.