Back to Lyle

Matching short sets, our more red than golden retriever and Lyle Lovett. During summer breaks in elementary school, those three things seemed to make up most of my memories. There's no particular summer; there remains just a muddled heap of them that's been consolidated into a sort of all-encompassing recollection.

Dad would sit in his old brown chair, Coors Light in hand and resting on his right knee. "Merle, George or Lyle?" was the big question on Sundays. Sometimes it was rhetorical; sometimes I got to pick. I loved each episode of Austin City Limits, taped and replayed over and over on our old Zenith. George Jones and Lyle Lovett were my two favorite episodes, and if Dad didn't have to pack to go out of town on business, I got lucky and got to watch both. Most often, there was time for only one.

Lovett--I called him "The Face"--was upbeat, funny and His Large Band full of serious studio musicians who could play most people out onto the street. The onstage banter made me laugh, as did campy songs like "She's Hot to Go" ("Now I crept up from behind her/She looked so fine to me/But when I stepped around her, man/My eyes could plainly see/She was ugly from the front"). The somber lyrics and mood of "Nobody Knows Me" made me swoon on the sheer soul of Lovett's voice. I've written about those times before, but every Sunday, Dad and I bonded thanks to this music, despite my being a fragile little girl and his being a 6-foot deer hunter. I'd help him pack his bag, and we'd sing, back and forth, the lyrics to "M-O-N-E-Y." During the week, I'd walk the dog, play "shop" with his massive jar of change and wait for the next Sunday.

When Dad moved out, Sundays were different. The old brown chair stayed at the house, and he had just an uncomfortable rattan chair. His apartment seemed sparse and depressing, his energy zapped. Unless we put Lyle Lovett in the VCR and revived just for a little while the warm feeling of a home.

Sometimes, we feel really blue, and there are few things to bring us out of it. For me, and I suspect my dad as well, a little dose of "Ug-ug-ug-ugly from the front" and a lap of two-stepping around the living room seem to right things, if only for a few moments. I'm not positive ol' Lyle will play our favorites from his Pontiac or And His Large Band albums at his Bass Hall performances this week, but even if he doesn't, as long as the show inspires another little girl to hop up on her daddy's feet and dance with him, Lovett still has his magic.

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin

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