~~William Clark Green Is not one for pulling punches. Where some songwriters trade in subtlety and dancing around blunt truths with clever feints and metaphor, Clark aims his words straight to the point and, when needed, right through the heart. His music is unrelentingly direct and hard-hitting, too, charged with a palpable rock ’n’ roll immediacy that’s as evident in his most intimate solo acoustic performances as it is in the full-tilt band shows that have packed rooms across his native Lone Star State from the Blue Light in Lubbock to the world’s biggest honky-tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. And with the April 21st release of Ringling Road, his eagerly awaited fourth album, Green is set to make his biggest impact on the booming Texas/Red Dirt music scene — and beyond — yet.
But just don’t call him the “Next Big Thing,” because as Green makes patently clear on Ringling Road’s riotously myth-busting opening track, that’s a laugh, buddy. And even with tongue firmly in cheek, William Clark Green is only interested in being real.
“Oh it’s hard to pay your dues when there ain’t no money in the bank
It’s a shame
I gotta make it to the show but there ain’t no gas in the tank
what you do for a broken heart and some busted strings
And everybody saying I’m the next big thing!”
“I’m actually a little nervous about what people are going to think of that song, and if they’ll think I’m being an asshole,” Clark admits with a laugh. “And that’s not the case at all, because it’s actually sarcastic as hell. But we’ve been hearing that ‘you’re the next big thing’ thing for a long time now — and I’m guilty of saying the same to some of my songwriter friends who are struggling out there, too. And even though it’s always meant in a nice way, you can’t help but think, ‘What? I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m actually sleeping in my truck tonight!”
Not that he’s complaining. Green is nothing if not fully committed to his chosen path. Granted, had a few chips fallen a little differently, he could have just as easily — and happily — devoted his life to ranching, but fate dictated pretty early on that he was meant to be a troubadour. He may have started taking guitar lessons at 13 primarily out of boredom — his family had just moved from Flint, Texas to College Station in the summer, and he didn’t have any new school friends yet — but it wasn’t long before he developed a keen interest in songwriting. A healthy obsession with his father’s copy of Willis Alan Ramsay’s classic 1972 debut had a lot to do with that (“That’s still the best album I’ve ever heard, and the reason I use three names,” Green enthuses). So did timing: “I remember seeing Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green and even Jerry Jeff Walker at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater in College Station when I was in high school,” he says. “The scene was really kind of in its birth then, and I was right there in the middle, paying attention and really intrigued by all of it.”