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Lyle Lovett

Lyle Lovett was one of the most distinctive and original singer/songwriters to emerge during the '80s. Though he was initially labeled as a country singer, the tag never quite fit him. Lovett had more in common with '70s singer/songwriters like Guy Clark, Jesse Winchester, Randy Newman, and Townes Van Zandt, combining a talent for incisive, witty lyrical detail with an eclectic array of music, ranging from country and folk to big-band swing and traditional pop. Lovett's literate, multi-layered songs stood out among the formulaic Nashville hit singles of the late '80s as well as the new traditionalists who were beginning to take over country music. Drawing from alternative country and rock fans, Lovett quickly built up a cult following that began to spill over into the mainstream with his second album, 1988's Pontiac. Following Pontiac, his country audience declined, but his reputation as a songwriter and musician continued to grow, and he sustained a dedicated cult following throughout the '90s.

Born in Klein, Texas -- a small town (named after his great-grandfather, a Bavarian weaver named Adam Klein) that later became a Houston suburb -- Lovett was raised on his family horse ranch. He didn't begin his musical career until he began writing songs while attending Texas A&M University in the late '70s, where he studied journalism and German. While he was a student, he performed covers and original songs at local folk festivals and clubs. As a graduate student, he traveled to Germany to study and continued to write and play while he was in Europe. However, he didn't begin to pursue a musical career in earnest until he returned to America in the early '80s.

Upon his return to the States, Lovett played clubs throughout Texas, eventually landing a spot in the 1983 Mickey Rooney TV movie Bill: On His Own. The following year Nanci Griffith, whom Lyle had interviewed for a school paper while he was in college, recorded his "If I Were the Woman You Wanted" on her Once in a Very Blue Moon album. He also sang on the album as well as her 1985 record Last of the True Believers. Guy Clark heard a demo tape of Lovett's songs in 1984 and directed it toward Tony Brown of MCA Records. Over the next year, MCA worked out the details of a record contract with Lyle. In the meantime, he made his first recorded appearance on Fast Folk Magazine, Vol. 2 #8 later in the year.

Lovett signed with MCA/Curb in 1986, releasing his eponymous debut later in the year. Lyle Lovett received excellent reviews, and five of its singles -- "Farther Down the Line," the Top Ten "Cowboy Man," "God Will," "Why I Don't Know," and "Give Back My Heart" -- reached the country Top 40. Despite his strong showing on the country charts, it was clear from the outset that Lovett's musical tastes didn't rely on country, though the genre provided the foundation of his sound. Instead, he incorporated jazz, folk, and pop into a country framework, pushing the musical boundaries of each genre. Pontiac, his second album, revealed exactly how eclectic and literate Lovett was. Greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews from both country and mainstream publications upon its 1987 release, Pontiac expanded his audience in the pop and rock markets. The album charted in the lower reaches of the pop charts and slowly worked its way toward gold status. While his pop audience grew, his country fan base began to shrink -- "She's No Lady" and "I Loved You Yesterday" both made the Top 30, but after those two songs, none of his other singles cracked the country Top 40.

It didn't matter that Lovett's country audience was disappearing -- Pontiac had gained enough new fans in the pop mainstream to guarantee him a strong cult following. To support Pontiac, he assembled His Large Band, which was a modified big band complete with guitars, a cellist, a pianist, horns, and a gospel-trained backup singer named Francine Reed. Lovett recorded his third album, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, with his touring band. Like its two predecessors, the album was well received critically upon its early 1989 release, and it performed well commercially, peaking at number 62 and eventually going gold. Perhaps because of the album's eclectic, jazzy sound, the album produced only one minor country hit in "I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You," but his straight rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" received a great deal of attention in the media.

Following the release of His Large Band, Lovett settled in California, which signaled that he was abandoning country. After moving to Los Angeles, he spent the next two years collaborating and working on his fourth album. In 1990, he produced Walter Hyatt's King Tears album; the following year, he sang on Leo Kottke's Great Big Boy and donated a cover of "Friend of the Devil" to the Grateful Dead tribute album Deadicated. Also in 1991, he made his acting debut in Robert Altman's The Player, which was released in the spring of 1992. A few months after The Player hit the theaters, Lovett's fourth album, Joshua Judges Ruth, was released. Boasting a heavy gospel and R&B influence, Joshua Judges Ruth was his most successful album to date, peaking at number 57 and going gold. On the whole, the album was ignored by country radio, but pop audiences embraced the record, and Lovett became a staple on adult alternative radio and VH1.

Despite the success of Joshua Judges Ruth, Lovett became a near-superstar for a completely different reason in 1993 -- his surprise marriage to actress Julia Roberts. Upon the announcement of their marriage, Lovett became the subject of many gossip segments and tabloid stories, elevating him to a level of fame he had not experienced before. Lyle's first project after his marriage was a role in Altman's 1993 film Short Cuts. He didn't release another album until the fall of 1994, when I Love Everybody hit the stores. A collection of songs Lovett wrote in the late '70s and early '80s, I Love Everybody continued his move away from country, and it was the first record he had released that didn't expand his audience in some way. After it entered the charts at number 26, it disappeared 13 weeks later, failing to go gold.

Lovett and Roberts divorced in the spring of 1995, and Lyle began to retreat from the spotlight somewhat, spending the remainder of the year touring and writing. Lovett re-emerged with The Road to Ensenada, the first album since Pontiac to be dominated by country songs, in the summer of 1996. In addition to performing well on the pop charts, where it entered at a career peak of number 24, The Road to Ensenada performed strongly on the country charts, entering at number four. The two-disc covers album Step Inside This House followed in 1998, featuring mostly underexposed material penned by some of Lovett's favorite songwriters (many of whom hailed from Texas). In 1999, Lovett issued his first concert record, Live in Texas, and his soundtrack to the Altman film Dr. T. & the Women followed a year later.

Smile, a collection of songs recorded for various movie soundtracks, appeared in 2003, followed that same year by My Baby Don't Tolerate on Lost Highway. The label also released It's Not Big It's Large in 2007 and Natural Forces in 2009. A holiday EP, Songs for the Season, appeared in 2011, and a couple of tracks from it ended up on Release Me (Lovett's final album on his Curb Records contract), which appeared in 2012. Over the next few years, Lovett maintained a low profile, playing concerts regularly and sometimes appearing on television; his biggest role was a ten-episode stint on The Bridge in 2013 and 2014. In 2017 Curb released Greatest Hits, a collection of Lovett's charting country singles. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Best Of Lyle Lovett - Live

1. Blues Walk (Live)

2. Penguins (Live)

3. I've Been To Memphis (Live)

4. That's Right You're Not From Texas (Live)

5. Long Tall Texan (Live)

6. I Know You Know I'm So In Love With You (Live)

7. Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby (Live)

8. If I Had A Boat (Live)

9. North Dakota (Live)

10. You Can't Resist (Live)

11. Here I Am (Live)

12. Funny How Time Slips Away (Live)

13. What Do You Do (The Glory Of Love) (Live)

14. Church (Live)

15. Closing Time (Live)


Track List: Release Me

1. Garfield's Blackberry Blossom

2. Release Me

3. White Boy Lost In The Blues

4. Baby, It's Cold Outside

5. Isn't That So

6. Understand You

7. Brown Eyed Handsome Man

8. Keep It Clean

9. One Way Gal

10. Dress Of Laces

11. The Girl With The Holiday Smile

12. Night's Lullaby

13. White Freightliner Blues

14. Keep Us Steadfast


Track List: Natural Forces

1. Natural Forces

2. Farmer Brown / Chicken Reel

3. Pantry

4. Empty Blue Shoes

5. Whooping Crane

6. Bayou Song

7. Bohemia

8. Don't You Think I Feel It Too

9. Sun And Moon And Stars

10. Loretta

11. It's Rock And Roll

12. Pantry (Acoustic Version)


Track List: It's Not Big It's Large

1. Tickle Toe

4. Don't Cry A Tear

5. South Texas Girl

6. This Traveling Around

8. The Alley Song

9. No Big Deal

10. Make It Happy

11. Ain't No More Cane


Track List: My Baby Don't Tolerate

1. Cute As A Bug

2. My Baby Don't Tolerate

3. The Truck Song

4. In My Own Mind

5. Nothing But A Good Ride

6. Big Dog

7. You Were Always There

8. Wallisville Road

9. Working Too Hard

10. San Antonio Girl

11. On Saturday Night

12. Election Day

13. I'm Going To Wait

14. I'm Going To The Place


Track List: Smile - Songs From The Movies

1. Blue Skies

2. Straighten Up And Fly Right

3. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You?

4. Smile

5. Moritat (Mack The Knife)

6. Summer Wind

7. What'd I Say

8. Till it Shines (with Keb Mo)

9. You've Got A Friend In Me (feat. Randy Newman)

10. Walking Tall

11. Pass Me Not (feat. George Duke)

12. I'm A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord


Track List: Anthology Volume One: Cowboy Man

1. The Truck Song

2. Cowboy Man

3. God Will

4. Farther Down The Line

5. This Old Porch

6. Why I Don't Know

7. If I Were The Man You Wanted

8. San Antonio Girl

9. If I Had A Boat

10. Give Back My Heart

11. I Loved You Yesterday

12. Walk Through The Bottomland

13. L.A. County

14. Which Way Does That Old Pony Run

15. If You Were To Wake Up


Track List: Anthology Vol. 1: Cowboy Man

1. The Truck Song

2. Cowboy Man

3. God Will

4. Farther Down The Line

5. This Old Porch

6. Why I Don't Know

7. If I Were The Man You Wanted

8. San Antonio Girl

9. If I Had A Boat

10. Give Back My Heart

11. I Loved You Yesterday

12. Walk Through The Bottomland

13. L.A. County

14. Which Way Does That Old Pony Run

15. If You Were To Wake Up


Track List: Dr. T & The Women (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

1. Dr. T's Theme

2. Opening Credits

3. Mall Women

4. The Fountain

5. The Bree Shuffle

6. Golf Cart Love

7. The Bridal Shower

8. You've Been So Good Up To Now

9. She's Already Made Up Her Mind

10. Lady Of The Lake

11. Dr. T's Theme (Reprise)

12. The Screen Door

13. The Wedding

14. Go Away With Me

15. The Crash

16. Ain't It Somethin'


Track List: Live In Texas

1. Penguins (Live)

2. I've Been To Memphis (Live)

3. That's Right (You're Not From Texas) (Live)

4. Nobody Knows Me (Live)

5. If I Had A Boat (Live)

6. North Dakota (Feat. Rickie Lee Jones) (Live)

7. She's No Lady (Live)

8. Here I Am (Live)

9. What Do You Do? (Live)

10. Wild Women Don't Get The Blues (Live)

11. M- O- N- E- Y (Live)

12. You Can't Resist It (Live)

13. Church (Live)

14. Closing Time (Live)


Track List: Step Inside This House

1. Bears

2. Lungs

3. Step Inside This House

4. Memphis Midnight/Memphis Morning

5. I've Had Enough

6. Teach Me

7. Sleepwalking

8. Ballad Of The Snow Leopard And The Tanqueray Cowboy

9. More Pretty Girls Than One

10. West Texas Highway

11. Rollin' By


Track List: The Road To Ensenada

1. Don't Touch My Hat

2. Her First Mistake

3. Fiona

4. That's Right

5. Who Loves You Better

6. Private Conversation

7. Promises

8. It Ought To Be Easier

9. I Can't Love You Anymore

10. Long Tall Texan

11. Christmas Morning

12. The Road To Ensenada


Track List: I Love Everybody

1. Skinny Legs

2. Fat Babies

3. I Think You Know

4. Hello Grandma

5. Creeps Like Me

6. Sonja

7. They Don't Like Me

8. Record Lady

9. Ain't It Somethin'

10. Penguins

11. The Fat Girl

12. La To The Left

13. Old Friend

14. Just The Morning

15. Moon Over My Shoulder

16. I've Got The Blues

17. Good-Bye To Carolina

18. I Love Everybody


Track List: Joshua Judges Ruth

1. I've Been To Memphis

2. Church

3. She's Already Made Up Her Mind

4. North Dakota

5. You've Been So Good Up To Now

6. All My Love Is Gone

7. Since The Last Time

8. Baltimore

9. Family Reserve

10. She's Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To

11. Flyswatter / Ice Water Blues (Monte Trenckmann's Blues)

12. She Makes Me Feel Good


Track List: Lyle Lovett And His Large Band

1. The Blues Walk

2. Here I Am

3. Cryin' Shame

4. Good Intentions

5. I Know You Know

6. What Do You Do/The Glory Of Love

7. I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You

8. Stand By Your Man

9. Which Way Does That Old Pony Run

10. Nobody Knows Me

11. If You Were To Wake Up

12. Once Is Enough


Track List: Pontiac

1. If I Had A Boat

2. Give Me Back My Heart

3. I Loved You Yesterday

4. Walk Through The Bottomland

5. L.A. County

6. She's No Lady

7. M-O-N-E-Y

8. Black And Blue

9. Simple Song

10. Pontiac

11. She's Hot To Go


Track List: Lyle Lovett

1. Cowboy Man

2. God Will

3. Farther Down The Line

4. This Old Porch

5. Why I Don't Know

6. If I Were The Man You Wanted

7. You Can't Resist It

8. The Waltzing Fool

9. An Acceptable Level Of Ecstasy

10. Closing Time


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fontanarama2 0 1 3
Texas Soul Man Doin' his soothing thing...
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Gosh, I needed a shot of you today. Love you Lyle.
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I never tire of his music. Have been a fan forever!
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Merry Christmas Lyle.....
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Coming to Springfield, MO in the fall, have tickets and can't wait!!!
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Saw him in Denver CO last night ❤️ Wow!!! Better than ever.
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Lyle came to the Tallgrass Symphony in Kansas last year, OMG what a great performance by a really nice man!
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laurentcussa c
huh? below not from me - hack
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How can even a short Bio of Mr. Lovett not mention his college days and continued friendship with Robert Earl Keen?
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Go see him live. One of the best shows you will ever see.
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Lyle Lovett is one of my favorites. His music is relaxing and I enjoy listening to his music. I met him once, and he was so nice. I met him at a meet and greet. I dated someone that knew him. We were back stage at one of his concerts, and the man was amazing! When he talked to you, he made you feel like you were the only one in the room.
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��best friend ��
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If you love me say I love you....if you love me say I do.....
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The first paragraph in the article should not be in past tense. Makes him sound like he died. It is also implied that he only had relevance in the 80's and 90's which is hogwash. Lastly, there is no mention of his most famous song which I believe is still used by the Texas tourism board.
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-Gman- love the story
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helvetian195 1
Lyle Lovette is too great to be confined to any one genre. His witty lyrics, and his fantastic melodies defy being corraled into any one label, just as a wild mustang refuses to be caught by any cowboy out on the Texas plains. Long may you continue to run, my friend, and long may we have the delight of hearing you in new and wonderfully umexpected places. If I had a pony, I'd take him on my boat...
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I love Lyle Lovette. His music always calms me. Long may you run, Lyle.
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I neeed more of his music. he's incredible
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I saw Lyle in Vermont at Shelburne Museum but a damn thunderstorm caused us to run at his last song...Churc h ! ! ! !
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I've seen Lyle and his band many times. He's a class act! I can't say enough to express my love for his music...
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My favorite song. Nobody knows me like my baby. I love this man.
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I hear RICKI LEE JONES all through this tune. Not just the vocals hey! I luv North Dakota....
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I saw Lyle Lovett years ago. I loved him then and I love him now. He can sing and it's a shame his music not played on the radio hardly at all. Just love his wonderful voice.
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Sang it Lyle Great sounding song
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Lalaloopsy goo mopping moo Hoya pol loom Bo hoop LPG Yupik ok jojoba Iola
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As I recall Roberts and Lovett lived in Taos, NM. I can remember a ski trip back around that time and someone pointing out their house.
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Check out the Horses he has on his home place !
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Girl do u think I'm pretty?
Boy- No
Girl- do u like me
Boy- No
Girl- wld u cry if I walked away
Boy- no
Girl- *walks away*
Boy- *grabs her arm* ur not pretty ur beautiful I don't like u I love u wouldn't cry if u walked away I would die *kisses girl*
#cutelovesto r y :D Folow me And ill follow back

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You did
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I love this song
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Stretches country music in new ways with heart and sophisticati o n that delights and surprises. He's not your daddy's cowboy, and still he's a true son of Texas and this country through and through with plenty of images and stories I never tire of hearing.
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If you like country music and Lyle Lovett that's fine. However what does Lovett's music of the 90's and early 2000's got to do with the Cryan Shames music circa 1965-66. Absoluetely nothing I would say. What the heck has gone wrong with Pandora Radio? I don't believe there is a lack of good tunes to feed me that is fairly closely related to what I like to listen too. I think Pandora's computers with their Algorhythms has gone completely off the deep end.
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You got a friend in me Lucas and Jarett just remember what your old pal said
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On the East end of Long Island, NY is the longest continuing operating cattle ranch in the US---in the town of Montauk--The r e has been an annual concert that has been performed on that ranch for many years---in 1998 or so, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffet, and Lyle's 'Very Large Band', were the acts--cool thing was nobody knew who was gonna show up except Simon who lived there---firs t time I saw Lyle---real trip--sittin on hay bales in a pasture---
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OMG i sang this for pre-k
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marjorie_den h a m
I love Lyle Lovett's music. I could listen to it every day and not get bored, which is saying something for the majority oft singer/songw r i t e r s .
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you sure got a friend in me!
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Thank you Lyle! Your music relaxes me and makes me smile.
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This song is perfect for him to sing because it brings back memories;)
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brittony.mar t i n
I've loved Lyle's music for many years.
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In my opinion Lyle is a COOL DUDE
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You've got a friend in me <3
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