Lyle turns 50

I have a very specific recollection of the first time I became aware of Lyle Lovett. I was watching the Today Show one morning in 1989, and Lyle and His Large Band performed “The Blues Walk” and “Here I Am”, the first two songs from Lyle’s third album. Afterwards, Bryant said something like, “That’s country music?” Soon, I got Large Band, which I loved, the swing-infused side one, contrasted with the more countrified Side 2. I especially enjoyed his cover of “Stand By Your Man”, which would be used to great effect in the movie The Crying Game.

From then on, I was Lyle-obsessed. I got the first two albums. The first album features God Will, which was later covered by country artist Patty Loveless – the albums are adjoining in my collection. Pontiac is a good album, but a bit melancholy. Joshua Judges Ruth supplanted Large Band as my favorite, with the great song Church. I Love Everybody was a slightly lesser effort which came out during his Julia Roberts period, but features Record Lady. The Road to Ensenada, which is still my favorite Lyle album, features That’s Right(You’re Not from Texas).

It was a long time from Ensenada (1998) to what I felt was the next “real” Lyle album, My Baby Don’t Tolerate (2003). In between, there was a double album of covers, a live disc, a greatest hits album, and a collection of songs for which he contributed to soundtracks. Tolerate had some good tunes, especially the title track.

I’m very fond of the new album, It’s Not Big, It’s Large. I can”t say where it’ll end up fitting in my Lyle pantheon, but it’s already top 4. I think it’s enhanced by the DVD that came with the album which gave me a greater understanding of the songs.

I’ve also seen him as the closing act at the Newport Folk Festival in Saratoga Springs at some point in the last decade with Nanci Griffith, Joan Baez, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Alison Krauss, Bruce Cockburn, Marc Cohn, and Lucinda Williams. Great show! And I’ve seen him as a non-singing performer in movies such as The Player and TV shows such as Dharma and Greg.

He’s even name-checked in a couple songs, such as Mary Chapin Carpenter’s I’m Lucky.

Happy birthday, Lyle. You’ve brought me much enjoyment.

Robert Goulet died recently. I actually have two Goulet songs in my collection: Sunrise, Sunset from some Columbia compilation LP and You’ve Got a Friend in Me from the Toy Story 2 soundtrack. Actually, I like them both, FWIW.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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