Song of the Day #421: ‘Creeps Like Me’ – Lyle Lovett

iloveeverybodyI Love Everybody was the first Lyle Lovett album that felt like a bit of a let-down. I think that’s because, following the tightly focused and emotional Large Band and Joshua Judges Ruth, this album felt a little too sloppy and a little too much like a lark.

Made up of 18 songs written in the early 80s before he landed his first record deal, I Love Everybody largely abandons the jazz and gospel influences of those previous albums in favor of a simple country style. And at the time of its release, I saw that as a negative.

But my opinion of this album has evolved over the years, either because I’ve softened on country music in general or because, removed from the burden of expectations built up by its two predecessors, I Love Everybody is a damn fine collection of songs.

Almost every one of these 18 songs, some of them not much longer than 2 minutes, is a minor gem. The album does run out of steam toward the end, but that’s a minor complaint… it’s hard to be unhappy with too much Lyle Lovett. I find that most albums of 18 or more songs would be much better served at 15, and this one is no exception. But those 15 keepers are fabulous. In fact, if I were to rank all of Lovett’s albums (and let’s face it, now that I’ve raised the prospect, I pretty much have to) this one would probably come in fourth or fifth after a couple of the ones I’ve already mentioned and one more still to come.

Lyrically, Lovett really flies his freak flag on I Love Everybody, delivering such delirious non sequiturs as “fat babies have no pride,” “penguins are so sensitive to my needs” and “she was five-foot-one-and-three-quarters, but Lord she claimed she was five-foot-two.”

One of the best lyrics on the album belongs to today’s song, ‘Creeps Like Me.’ It’s a misanthropic masterpiece, and funny as hell to boot.

I wear Grandmother’s ring
On my finger
On my finger
She had a tooth of gold
And just before she died
She said son
You can have my tooth
But do I
Really have to go

Look around
And you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I keep my Uncle Leon
In my closet
In my closet
There don’t nobody know
Just me and Uncle Leon
And my closet
And they wonder
Where’d that old man go

Look around and you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I knew this pretty girl once
She was eighteen…
Maybe
What’s a year or two
And one day when she asked me
If I loved her
I said baby
What’s it worth to you

But look around
And you will see
This world is full of creeps like me
You look surprised
You shouldn’t be
This world is full of creeps like me

And I wear Grandmother’s ring
On my finger
On my finger
She had a tooth of gold
She had a tooth of gold
She had a tooth of gold

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #421: ‘Creeps Like Me’ – Lyle Lovett

  1. Amy says:

    I haven’t begun to give this album its due. After it initially came out and got that spell of focused attention that new releases get, it has stayed firmly on its place on the shelf. It’s not that I have negative associations about it – just that my positivie associations are so much stronger for several other Lovett albums. This blog has inspired me to dust it off and give it another listen.

    I admit I find the first two verses of this song a bit cryptic. Is he speaking figuratively? What sort of foul play is going on here? I’m much more comfortable – and therefore far more amused – with the 3rd verse and the rhetorical question “what’s a year or two.” The song works best for me in that verse. That and the sterling chorus, of course. I’ll be humming it all day long.

  2. Dana says:

    I agree that this album felt like a letdown after the heights reached in the previous 2 records. Of course, he more than redeemed himself with his next album, Ensenada, which came out very shortly after this one. Still, there are some gems, as you say, in here. Today’s SOTD is one of them, but I also am quite fond of “Record Lady,” “Ain’t It Something” and “Penguins.” Not surprisingly, it is these 3 songs that reflect the more gospel, blues and jazz part of Lyle that I adore.

    Here’s the rather amusing video for Penguins.

  3. Clay says:

    I don’t think the first two verses are cryptic or figurative. I think he killed his grandma for her gold tooth and his uncle for god knows why. The third verse describes a less lethal sort of evil.

  4. pegclifton says:

    Probably put her before a “death panel”

  5. Amy says:

    Well, if we’re really to read/hear them that literally, then I find them far less effective, as there are, at least I hope, not all that many creeps like him, if he’s offing his grandma for her gold tooth and stuffing his uncle in the closet. Taking grandma’s tooth after the fact and making a ring out of it is a more common sort of creepiness of which the world is likely full.

    Anyway, I’m used to my Lyle having fun with his lyrics (“She lies beside me almost every night” being a prime example), so I’m still inclined to think there’s more going on there.

  6. Clay says:

    Oh, I don’t know… read the news wire every night and you’ll see the world is indeed full of creeps like this, and far worse. I think the “fun” in this song is the switch from that very extreme sort of creep in the first two verses to the more familiar creep in the last one. And also in the jokes contained in each verse… those are quite fun.

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