Some Memphis producers, like Willie Mitchell, elect to stay home and hone their craft; others, like Jim Dickinson, stick around to perfect their insanity. Still others make the 200-mile trek up to Nashville and use their expertise to make records in the alien environment of Music Row, as have Chips Moman and Jack Clement. On Guess Things Happen That Way, his first record in a quarter-century, Clement, who as producer moved on from Jerry Lee Lewis to Charley Pride and Waylon Jennings, brings a gentle eccentricity to versions of his classic Sun-era songs “It’ll Be Me” (covered by everyone from Foghat and the Move to Jerry Lee himself) and “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” on which vocals by Clement and Johnny Cash combine for a fond, not lecherous, recollection of past glories.
He gives Jagger-Richards’s “No Expectations” a pleasantly ricky-tick soul-folk arrangement, complete with banjo and horns, and co-writes one called “Every Place I’ve Ever Been” with Georgia’s ex-senator Zell Miller. And then there’s his own “Drinking Carrot Juice”: as good a health food song as Brian Wilson ever wrote, and recommended to Michael Hurley next time he’s foraging for a tune with the word “goozle” in it.