• Carmen Milligan

Lyle Lovett is very underrated

I saw Lyle Lovett perform June 3, 1999, at Pier 6 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. All these years later, I still remember that he opened with the lyrics, "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman", from "Stand by Your Man". It was one of the most understated and wonderful concerts I have ever attended. Francine Reed was with him, traveling as part of his "Large Band". I wish I could go back, these 22 years later, as a fan who would have appreciated much more what I was experiencing.

Lyle Lovett is so underrated. He hosted that night like he was giving a concert in his back yard after grilling burgers or watching a big game on the television. He was conversational, witty, sardonic, and ... that voice. He told a joke about being married to Julia Roberts, and I wish I could remember it, but it was funny and respectful.

Listen to his music now and you will see the intelligence of his lyrics. A 1996 article in The Spokesman-Review says it best, that his songs "characterize Lovett’s artistic prowess: a singer-songwriter affected by the roots of country, influenced by the quiet power of folk and intrigued by the flashiness of blues and big band. His ability to juggle those varied styles and inject them with his lovable, smart-aleck persona is as distinguishable as that hair."

If you are new to Lyle Lovett, start with "If I Had a Boat", which is a sweet song about the simple pleasures in life. Then go to "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)" which will give you a taste of how Texans feel about "urban cowboys". Then mosey over to a hilarious "Church" about a pastor who preaches a little too long one Sunday. Next is one of my faves: "Don't Touch My Hat", which tells a stranger that he can "have my girl, but don't touch my hat".

Lovett, with his silky smooth vocals and straightforward guitar picking, is surely a talent for those who appreciate substance over flash. But in the end, he is a consummate story teller.

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