Without Getting Killed or Caught, a documentary by Tamara Saviano explores the story of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and his wife Susanna Clark. It takes its name from a line in one of Clark’s most well-known songs, LA Freeway. The core characters developed a three-way love that nourished them all, despite its unusual nature. Saviano achieved a great win in revealing the story’s intricacies: audio and written diaries left by her late subjects after her death from cancer in 2012. Guy, like John Prine, uses simple language to achieve literary marvels in his songs.
His music mixed traditional American genres like folk, blues, and country with new songs, which he delivered in a voice that conveyed both a sarcastic sense of humor and a quick empathy. The two had an emotional and sexual relationship, but it was not depicted in the film. Saviano: It was all about their relationship and love for each other. The guy was well aware that it was sexual, and he simply accepted it.
While cover versions of Guy’s songs by Jerry Jeff Walker, Ricky Scaggs, and Vince Gill did well, his own albums in the mid-70s were a flop. Susanna co-wrote two country hits: Dottsy’s I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose and Kathy Mattea’s Come from the Heart. Guy, Susanna, and Townes formed an informal salon of fellow songwriters in the early 1980s. According to Saviano, she made the film to improve Susanna’s reputation as well as Guy and Townes’ work.