Here’s a tale for the non-rock star if there ever was one, a grass-is-always-greener narrative that many guys find themselves in the middle of when comparing themselves unfavourably to others. In some ways, Lovett is like a gentler, country-folk answer to Randy Newman‘s more abrasive sense of cynicism and irony. Where Newman laughs at the world and it’s absurdities, it’s easy to get the impression that Lovett laughs along while throwing himself in there with it.
That’s one of the things that makes this song so endearing; it has a softer side, a sense of innocence to it that provides an emollient to the spiky themes that it deals with so subtly; envy, self-hatred, and living in a culture that very often values appearances over substance. Being in Hollywood circles as an actor must have given Lovett some sense of this in very personal terms. Yet, that’s another ironic twist to be found in the background of this song, and the record off of which it comes.
The I Love Everybody album is made up of songs that Lovett had written years before, following up the very ambitious Joshua Judges Ruth in 1992. On it are a number of songs, including this one, which are about being outside looking in. A lot of pop songs, and tons of country songs, are about the search for love while being bogged down by things you can’t change; lack of looks, lack of money, or just plain old moral turpitude. Presented here in a laid back musical context, yet also still with a sweetness of tone helped along by pristine acoustic guitars, fiddle, warm stand-up bass, and sumptuous string sections, Lovett created a series of anthems for those not invited to the dance, with this one being a great example.
Yet, Lovett found his way into the world of the beautiful people around this time in any case, appearing as an actor in Robert Altman’s The Player, alongside many Hollywood luminaries. One of these, of course, was Julia Roberts who was a rising starlet at that point fresh off of the sets of Pretty Woman, Flatliners, and Dying Young. They’d date briefly, and elope in 1993. Then, she’d lend background vocals on this very album.
Take that, Boy With Skinny Legs!
The marriage would be short-lived, with the movie star’s life (lots of early mornings) and musician’s schedules (lots of late nights) not exactly jibing. Yet, the two would remain friends, with friendship being something to be valued beyond skinny legs, babyfaces, and little round … well, you know.
Lyle Lovett is an active musician today, with a new album out – Release Me.
Learn more by investigating the official Lyle Lovett site.