Guy Clark wrote a foundational text for the disciples of that feeling — the people who want to believe that bohemian independence doesn’t have a specific geography or look a particular way — with Old No. 1. His debut album, released in 1975, arrived after his words had started seeping through Nashville’s cracks; six of the songs on this album had already been recorded by other artists, from Jerry Jeff Walker to Rita Coolidge to David Allan Coe to Johnny Cash, by the time it was released. 

Old No. 1 is a treatise on the sanctity of songwriting. There can be a perfect three-and-a-half-minute song, Clark seemed to posit, and such a thing is worth dedicating your life to — despite the fact that chart metrics and sales are the furthest things from evidence of his particular brand of perfection.