18 July 2006

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.

* * * * * *



At 7/18/2006 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

I haven't read your post yet, I just spied the picture. I'm nominating you for President of Everything. Now I'll read your post and see if I was right to do so.

At 7/18/2006 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Dale said...

Yep, the nomination stands. Francine Reed is so superb too.

Loved your review but for some ridiculous reason have never seen Lyle lyve.

I was going to go to that songwriter's circle show but got in line too late.

At 7/18/2006 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous rcofchs said...

I have the Large Band CD and it is great. When I went to the music store to purchase it I looked in the Country section, not there, the Rock section, still no Lyle. I had to get the manager to look it up on his computer. He told me they really did not know where to put Lyle because he does so many different styles of music

At 7/18/2006 12:04:00 PM, Blogger haahnster said...

The detective from that Robert Altman film The Player...he sings??!!

Just kidding.

But, I must ashamedly admit that I do not have any Lyle in my collection. I'll keep my eyes open at the Used CD store...

At 7/18/2006 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DALE: I gladly accept the nomination, but you must be my veep. We'll clean everyone's CD racks of lame music, and fill them with our great taste.

RCOFCHS: Have we seen Lyle together? If not, we're going next time he comes to town. If we have, we're going next time he comes to down.

HAAHNSTER: Yes, the detective from The Player and the pissed-off baker from Short Cuts sings. Boy, does he sing. Hit your local used CD store today. You'll thank me forever.

At 7/18/2006 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

DALE: Thanks for the link to Mr. Sun. I hate missing anything good about Mr. Zevon. Mr. Sun has a T.C. Boyle post today, so don't miss it.

At 7/18/2006 03:22:00 PM, Anonymous Glassmeow said...

I like Lyle too but (like Dale and The Haahnster) none in my collection and haven't seen him live. Alas!

Two for you, Beth - Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer (I'll copy you some along with the Ligabue that should hit the mail today along with a Brute Peck surprise -under separate cover because of his magnetic personage)

and Robbie Fulks - if I can find mine, I'll copy that too :)

Shhh...don't tell the record companies where I live!

Thanks for the offer of the Valotte mp3 - I think DawnRae said she'll copy the cd for me (and she lives across town).

At 7/18/2006 05:09:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I own nothing by him but have always kind of dug him when he's on Letterman or whatever. They also play him more regularly than you'd expect on Chicago's WXRT.

At 7/18/2006 05:56:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

Love, love Lyle. I find him to be a particularly clever songwriter, even in the early years. I think "Cowboy Man" has to be an ironic take on his own not-so-cowboy appearance, right?

The real question, of course, is what the very awesome Lyle ever saw in that minor Hollywood star...what's her name again? :)

At 7/18/2006 06:06:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Lyle was also in the film The Opposite of Sex which was enjoyable.

You're welcome for the Mr. Sun thing Beth.

Robbie Fulks is hilarious at times and also pretty solid when he's not being so funny. Am I right glassmeow?

At 7/18/2006 07:07:00 PM, Anonymous Glassmeow said...

Dale, that is absolutely right!

Robbie Fulks is a great songwriter and performer. He usually is being funny, but he's got the chops to back it up fer sure!

When he plays Portland, you'll usually find him and his band singing karaoke after the show - at the Galaxy on East Burnside Street.

At 7/19/2006 08:01:00 AM, Blogger Jack Hartley said...

I know that at age 28 I still have a lot of music left to explore so please forgive me when I confess...
I've never even heard of this guy.

Since you all seem to have nothing but good things to say, I will have to check him out.

At 7/19/2006 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

I love Lyle. Penguins. What a song. I have had the pleasure of seeing him along with Bonnie as well. And many other times in various venues.

He is amazing. His college roommate at Texas A&M was Robert Earl Keene, who is another of my favorites. Oh to be a fly on the wall back then.

My girl finds him incredibly sexy - which I admit, that I don't get - but I never argure with a girl that has her motor running!

But he was married to Julia Roberts and for that one reason, he will forever be in my top 10.

At 7/19/2006 03:04:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

Lyle's cousin is named 'Calvin Klein'. The town of Klein, Texas is named after that part of the family.

I met Calvin and Lyle's parents at a show in Houston. If you take half of his mother's face, and the other half of his dad's and put them together, it equals Lyle's. It was an outside concert in August, and yet his parents were in their Sunday finery. Cute!

At 7/19/2006 03:28:00 PM, Blogger barista brat said...

beth - it is only because i so highly respect you that i am willing to check lyle lovett out. he creeped me out way too much in the player, and in his wedding photo.
so, only because of you am i willing to give him a try.

At 7/19/2006 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

GLASSMEOW: I'm not familiar with either Dave Carter or Tracy Grammer; I'll check them out tonight.

GRANT: Seems Chicago radio is much cooler than Atlanta radio. Go buy some Lyle before you hit the Vineyard; it will impress the missus.

KFLUFF: He's looking for an Atlanta girl; he just picked the wrong one.

DALE: (And Glassmeow) One of my favorite people on the planet loves Robbie Fulks, and I think he's given me a CD or two. Guess I need to check him out.

JACK: Lyle is definitely worth checking out. You've probably heard him on several movie soundtracks.

KEITH: I love Robert Earl Keen, too. Don't you wish you'd been in Austin when they were all starting out?

M: I'm green again. And I love his face.

BRAT: Thanks for the compliment. Lyle's wonderful.

At 7/19/2006 07:21:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

Um, I hate to bring this up, but I heard that Lyle was a ............


The horrors...

At 7/20/2006 04:08:00 PM, Anonymous glassmeow said...

Beth - Dave & Tracy cd - Tanglewood Tree - in the mail to you along with the Ligabue.

At 7/20/2006 09:18:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

THANKS, Kat!!!

At 7/24/2006 12:58:00 AM, Blogger Jack Hartley said...

I downloaded "You're the reason our kids are ugly" and it's awesome.
Thanks for putting me on to this guy.


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