Song of the Day #428: ‘South Texas Girl’ – Lyle Lovett

notbiglargeFour years after his worst album, Lyle Lovett returned to form with a new collection featuring his Large Band and titled It’s Not Big It’s Large. While this album didn’t reach the heights of his early work, it is definitely in the same ballpark and it’s a sign that Lovett may have righted the ship after more than a decade of listing.

My one complaint about It’s Not Big It’s Large is that it’s a deceptively modest affair. It boasts 12 tracks but one is an instrumental, one is a cover and one is a reprise of an earlier song. After so long in the wilderness, I would have preferred Lovett deliver something meatier, but that’s nitpicking.

The songs on It’s Not Big It’s Large nod back to earlier albums. Opening track ‘Tickle Toe’ is a jazzy instrumental in the vein of ‘Blues Walk.’ ‘I Will Rise Up’ is a gospel singalong like those on Joshua Judges Ruth. The slow blues of ‘No Big Deal’ would have felt at home on And His Large Band and the melancholy ‘This Traveling Around’ could have easily fit onto his debut or Pontiac.

But my favorite song on the album is something a little bit different. ‘South Texas Girl’ doesn’t necessarily sound a whole lot different than most Lyle Lovett songs (though there is a certain majesty in the instrumentation and production that feels new). It’s the subject matter that really sets it apart. This is the first song I can think of in which Lovett is so earnestly nostalgic.

The song is a fond remembrance of Lovett’s childhood, specifically riding in a car with his parents and singing along to an old cowboy song. Country crooner Guy Clark opens and closes the song with an old-timey take on the chorus, invoking that long-ago memory of a boy in a car.

This album, and this song in particular, have me confident that Lyle Lovett has more tricks up his sleeve. I look forward to discovering them.

(Guy Clark)
Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wander around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

(Lyle Lovett)
Three in the front seat they sat on each side
That green-and-white ’58 Fairlane it would glide
Down farm roads past open fields seeming like no big deal
As it was happening I never felt a thing

But now looking back it seems like it was everything
Singing with mom just so we could hear ourselves sing
Stealing a drink from the cold can in daddy’s lap
Protected by only a small thin brown paper sack

And the wind blew the echoes of long-faded voices
And they’d sing me a song that the old cowboys sang
And I didn’t know what the words meant or anything
I was just singing because I was supposed to

Sing Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wander around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

And with the windows wide open it felt hot to us anyway
Three bound together on a day just like any day
They told me and taught me and showed me and bought me
Whatever I wanted from the corner U-tote-M

They say the name Corpus Christi means the body of Jesus
Pronounce it Refugio city folks they don’t know
It looks like Palacios but sounds like Palacios
Just listen the next time you’re watchin’ Sid Lasher

And the wind blew the echoes of long-faded voices
And they would sing me a song that the old cowboys sang
And I didn’t know what the words meant or anything
I was just singing

Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wander around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

And I didn’t know what the words meant or anything
I was just singing

And these days with car seats and open container laws
Social correctness leaves no room for Santa Claus
Sitting right next to me she looks like that used to be
Song that they sang for me

And with the windows wide open it feels hot to us anyway
Two bound together on a day just like any day
The wind blows the echoes of long-faded voices
And they sing us a song that the old cowboys sang
And now that I know what the words mean and everything
I am still singing

Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wander around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we stumble around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

(Music ends)

(Guy Clark)
Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wander around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

(Everyone)
Saint Mother Maria watch over us please
As we wonder around in this dangerous world
Thank Mother Maria there’s nothing so sweet
As the undying love of a South Texas girl

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #428: ‘South Texas Girl’ – Lyle Lovett

  1. Dana says:

    I do like this song well enough (for a country song:)), but I remain more a fan of Lyle’s blues, jazz and gospel offerings “No Big Deal” is, perhaps not surprisingly, my personal favorite on this album, followed by the epic “I Will Rise Up” and “All Downhill.” True, “Downhill” is a country song, but you gotta appreciate the humor and sentiment (particularly in light of what we have been wondering as to whether Lyle will ever reproduce the magic of his earlier works). .

    Here is Lyle on Leno singing “I Will Rise Up”

  2. Amy says:

    The enthusiasm with which Leno introduced Lovett actually made me just like him a scintilla more. Thank you, Dana, for posting one of my favorite recent Lyle offerings. This is definitely one I’d play on the desert island.

    I do love Lyle + nostalgia, that is evident in Clay’s selection from this album, though I don’t think it can compare to “I Will Rise Up” in terms of sheer emotional impact. I guess it depends on the mood you’re in. They both make me want to pop this album back in my CD player, so that’s certainly a good thing.

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