Lyle Lovett: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
I turned 30 in 1989. The must-have album for every single thirtysomething woman that year was Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time. I had it, I loved it, the grooves were well worn (because we were still buying vinyl back then, kids), and I went to see her at the Fox Theater that fall. It was an incredibly rowdy show. Bonnie was turning 40 the next day and this was her birthday party. She giggled and hinted about her backstage misdeeds with Lowell George and other Fox naughtiness in years past, and just kicked the hell out of the stage.
As great as Bonnie was, she lost me to her opening act: Lyle Lovett. Love at first sight and sound. I was vaguely familiar with him — he got some airplay on WRAS — but seeing him live did it for me. I fell deeply in love with his music right there, and went out the next morning to buy all three of his CDs. As did every person I know who was at that show.
And so I introduce you (actually, I pray you already love) Lyle Lovett and His Large Band.
A wonderful mix of country and Texas swing, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band is full of Lyle’s personality, with lyrics both funny and heartbreaking, and a grand cover of “Stand by Your Man.” The Large Band includes our hometown favorite, Francine Reed, raising the roof with her spine-tingling, blues-tinged backing vocals.
Every track on this album is near perfection. Some make me want to grab the first man to twirl and two-step around the room, while others drive me to the mic, ready to belt it just like Francine. My personal favorite is “Nobody Knows Me,” a beautiful heartbreaker about infidelity. It’s one of my ten favorites from Lyle’s catalog. (We girls love a good breakup tune.)
Lyle Lovett is hard to categorize, and so (sinfully, you boring, unimaginative radio programmers) rarely gets airplay. I think he’d work well on a couple of our town's stations, but no Lyle yet. Just trust me on this one and give him a try. I have yet to be disappointed by a Lyle disc. He's just damn cool.
Seventeen years after that musically fateful night, I’ve seen Lyle live about twelve or thirteen times. One of the best shows was a songwriter’s circle, with him, Guy Clark (who that night entered my top forty; if you love songwriting, you should know him or check him out today), Joe Ely, [and I’m afraid to say I’m drawing a blank on the other two; Ruth, fill in my memory gaps!]. They sat in folding chairs, went down the line talking about the inspiration for a particular song, then performed it together. Got to see a lot of Lyle’s charm and wit on that Variety Playhouse stage.
A few years later, I caught his Chastain show with Rickie Lee Jones — who was brilliant, but rattled by the rattle of forks and conversation that fill our local amphitheater. She joined him on stage to sing her part in my favorite Lyle tune, “North Dakota.” Beautiful, perfect for a dark summer night.
If you’ve never seen him, I urge — no, demand — that you catch him next time his bus pulls into your town. He’s a great performer full of personality and strong voice, and you’ll see why Julia got the best end of that deal.
Oh, and I love full-haired Lyle. That wild hair, coupled with a face full of personality and lives lived, and his sense of style makes for one damn attractive man.
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Labels: My Soundtrack