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A rewritten oldie: "Guymon, OK"


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I'm using a chunk of my social-distancing time to go back and re-examine, re-edit, re-write -- and, in some cases, toss out entirely -- old songs I've never been fully satisfied with. "Guymon, OK" is one of the songs that got a review.

I wrote the song in 2002 or 2003. My wife at the time was visiting her sister in Oklahoma and I was missing her, and I thought, "I'll write a song about Oklahoma." Then I thought, "Hey, there's a whole Broadway musical about that, and they even called it Oklahoma!"

At the paper I worked at, I sat next to our religion writer, and he had a book on his desk about sex in the Bible. I asked him if I could borrow it, and it was a pretty good and informative read. I was particularly interested in the story of Tamar and Judah told in Genesis 38. It is an involved tale which I won't retell here, but it is really weird (even for Biblical sex) and the book, written by an academic, made the point that the story really had no point.

So I decided to tell the story (or at least use it as a launching pad) and placed it in Guymon, a city in the Oklahoma Panhandle. My protagonists are a waitress named Tammy and a rodeo rider from Amarillo named Irv. In the rewrite, I was trying to channel some Ray Wylie Hubbard....


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6 hours ago, Jinder said:

This is brilliant, as usual!! Absolutely outstanding song. Hope you're well in these crazy times, David.

Thanks for the kind words. Things are relatively calm in Cyprus. Just waiting for it to be safe to open up again and get out and play. I feel bad for gigging musicians who are losing income.

I hope all is well with you, too. These are perilous times....

Edited by dhanners623
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  • 2 weeks later...

Most of my rewriting efforts of late have been focused on shortening songs, getting out extraneous words, lines or even verses, getting to the story faster, etc.

Sometimes, though, you have to go in the opposite direction. The story needs fleshing out a bit more, or something needs to be added. Such was the case with "Guymon, OK." I decided that at four verses, it needed another verse. The new one is tucked in between what was the second and third verses, and it goes:

The sheriff brought Tammy in for questioning, there were some things he wanted to know

But her alibi was airtight so he had to let her go

As she walked out she wore the widest Cheshire grin

The sheriff knew, and she did, too: A smile is not evidence


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Nice!! I like the added verse alot, and I think your instinct there was spot-on.
One note, fwiw: I often lost your lyric at the tail end of some lines, which is unfortunate because you packed them with good pay-offs. Dunno if capoing up a fret or two would do the trick, or if saving up some breath so’s you don’t swallow those lines is feasible. Either way, just a thought...

Good job!


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