Song of the Day #425: ‘Bears’ – Lyle Lovett

stepinsideI hope I’m not being too harsh when I say that The Road to Ensenada was Lyle Lovett’s last great album. He’s made several good ones since then, but nothing that compares to his output from 1986-1996.

In fact, Lovett released six full-length albums of original material during his first decade as a recording artist and has released only two in the 13 years since. He has filled the rest of that time with soundtrack appearances, covers albums and a live release. I often wonder about those bursts of creativity that give way to long dry spells, and Lovett is another example. I don’t necessarily suspect that his best work is behind him, but I wonder if he still possesses the creative fire that led to that extraordinary run.

The follow-up to The Road to Ensenada was a 1998 2-disc album of covers called Step Inside This House. Lovett chose to follow his biggest hit yet with a tribute to fellow Texas songwriters, an admirable decision indeed. And the batch of songs he chose are all quite good… just not Lyle Lovett good.

Here’s the opening track, ‘Bears,’ written by Steven Frumholz, who is also responsible for the highlight of Side Two, a three-part opus known as ‘Texas Trilogy.’ I hope Lovett’s album brought him some attention.

Some folks say there ain’t no bears in Arkansas
Some folks never seen a bear at all
Some folks say that bears go around eating babies raw
Some folks got a bear across the hall

Some folks say that bears go around smelling bad
Others say that a bear is honey sweet
Some folks say this bear’s the best I ever had
Some folks got a bear beneath their feet

Some folks drive the bears out of the wilderness
Some to see a bear would pay a fee
Me I just bear up to my bewildered best
And some folks even see the bear in me

So meet a bear and take him out to lunch with you
And even though your friends may stop and stare
Just remember that’s a bear there in the bunch with you
And they just don’t come no better than a bear

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #425: ‘Bears’ – Lyle Lovett

  1. Amy says:

    I don’t know if I even even owned this album – so much for his admirable attempt to get his fans to discover some of his favorite songwriters!

    I’m torn about concepts like this – while I love the artist I love for specific reasons – and want to hear that artist’s music – I do enjoy getting a glimpse into what inspires the musicians who inspire me. Shawn Colvin’s cover album is one I enjoy tremendously, for instance.

    Not sure “Bears” is the song to make me run out to get this album, however. 🙂

    • Tom says:

      What was cool about Shawn Colvin’s “Cover Girl” album is that she said, ‘hey, I mastered all these songs before I started writing my own stuff; I might as well get them recorded.’ And they’re lovely.

  2. Dana says:

    I’ve heard this album once, and to quote Lyle from a far better song, “Once is Enough.”

  3. Clay says:

    That’s a bit harsh. Certainly any album of covers isn’t up to the quality of Lovett’s own stuff, but his voice and his band performing any decent song is worth listening to. This was actually the album he was touring on when we first saw him live and they played the hell out of several of these tracks.

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