Lyle Lovett is a modern legend. His laid-back vocal delivery offers a flirtatious wink at the listener and is as identifiable as his wild-ass hair has been, since he began performing in the early '80s. The 54-year-old troubadour could sing the words to a Panda Express menu and it would be an instant Texas classic.
As is the case with so many of the greats, Lovett's muse often arrives in the mystifying and alluring form of a girl. In his song titles, he refers to the opposite sex with an array of tags such as "baby," "lady," and "gal," paired with tunes where he mentions a girl by name in the title. The clarity Lovett provides when he gets right to the point of who he's really singing about is striking. While "If I Had a Boat," "L.A. County," and "Private Conversation" have cemented his celebrity status, he's still a Texas boy singing about a girl.
With Lovett bringing his Large Band to Dallas for a performance at the Majestic Theater on Friday, benefiting CitySquare, it seems like a good time to discuss the songs where the lanky performer lets his majestic simplicity - and his favorite muse - be the star of the show.
"The Fat Girl" Who else could take such a phrase and turn it into such a tender yet stark song? The message of heartbreak brought on by bullying is a gut-wrencher. Interesting side-note: This song's on the same album (1994's I Love Everybody) as "Skinny Legs" and "Fat Babies."
"South Texas Girl" Perhaps Lovett's best song in the last decade, and yet again, his use of simplicity is a touch only master songwriters employ. That's what makes this ode to his longtime love so moving. The video for the song (above) follows suit.
"The Girl With the Holiday Smile" From his latest album, Release Me, this naughty, jazzy piano number makes up for the inclusion of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" on the same album. A Christmas carol that can get one's motor running quicker than cleverly placed mistletoe is yet another one of the tricks Lovett can pull out of his bag. Also, let's not forget that it isn't just anyone that can sing about hookers and the holidays in the same song and get away with it.
"San Antonio Girl" Quicker in tempo and higher in quirk than "South Texas Girl," this is a swinging number that made Lovett's love for girls south of the Guadalupe River clear.
"Girl in the Corner" This stunning tune from the Grammy-winning 1996 album Road to Ensenada is a fantastic example of Lovett's ability to spin quiet, contemplative tales, and it doesn't get the attention his more up-tempo numbers have received. Let this remarkable album run until the end, where this song lies.