Song of the Day #1,475: ‘The Girl With the Holiday Smile’ – Lyle Lovett

I’m more than a little fed up with Lyle Lovett.

Since his 1996 masterpiece, The Road to Ensenada, he has released seven albums, and he doesn’t appear to be trying on any of them. That group includes a soundtrack, a live album and three records dedicated almost exclusively to covers.

The other two albums — My Baby Don’t Tolerate and It’s Not Big It’s Large — have their moments but mostly sound like Lovett is going through the motions, coasting on the reputation he established over his amazing first six records.

So now Lovett, who once seemed like the surest bet in the business, has released more clunkers than successes. That’s just not right.

I have to add the caveat that a “bad” record from Lyle Lovett still sounds pretty amazing. His voice is as glorious as ever and his backing bands are never less than superb. His signature brand of Texas swing and jazz is delightful, whether it’s in the service of an obscure cover or a brilliant original song.

The problem is, those brilliant originals are increasingly fewer and farther between. Today’s track is one of only two originals on Lovett’s latest album, Release Me, and while it’s dirty fun, it’s not in the same hemisphere as his best work.

Much has been made of Release Me being Lovett’s last album under his latest record contract. The album’s title and cover photo allude to the fact that he hasn’t enjoyed much creative freedom under the deal. But it sounds like he’s been tied up in those ropes for 17 years, and I don’t think you can blame that on a contract.

I met a hooker at the grocery store
She wasn’t bad lookin’, she was a pretty little whore
Whoa-o-whoa, she’s the girl with the holiday smile

She told me: “Merry Christmas and peace to you”
She said “I’ve been workin’ this whole night through.”
She said “Whoa-o-whoa, I’m the girl with the holiday smile”

She told me “Whoa my whoa me, I look so good beneath a Christmas tree”
She said “Whoa-o-whoa, I’m the girl with the holiday smile”

She told me “Christmas brings out the best in me”
She said “My heart’s so full of love and generosity”
“Whoa-o-whoa, I’m the girl with the holiday smile”

And “Well the police here and the police there
“They ruin my Christmas spirit everywhere I go.”
“Whoa-o-whoa, I’m the girl with the holiday smile”

She told me “Whoa my whoa me, I look so good beneath a Christmas tree”
She said “Whoa-o-whoa, I’m the girl with the holiday smile”

Well she told me “goodbye” as she walked away
She said “Son, if you’re good maybe on Christmas day”
Whoa-o-whoa…

I said “Whoa my whoa me, she looks so good beneath my Christmas tree”
Whoa-o-whoa, she’s the girl with the holiday…

I met a hooker at the grocery store
She wasn’t bad lookin’, she was a pretty little whore
Whoa-o-whoa, she’s the girl with the holiday..
Well lord lord, she’s the girl with the holiday…
Whoa-o-whoa, she’s the girl with the holiday..

Silent night shining so bright
She ain’t holy but she can hold me tight

Whoa-o-whoa, she’s the girl with the holiday…

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,475: ‘The Girl With the Holiday Smile’ – Lyle Lovett

  1. Dana says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I so crave another great Lovett album sans covers!

  2. Amy says:

    Interesting insight about his contract. Has he been with the same studio for his brilliant albums? If not, why would he change? If so, why their sudden unwillingness to offer him creative freedom? And it’s difficult to think a studio isn’t offering creative freedom when an artist is allowed to record an album featuring songs written and performed by a bunch of his unknown Texas buddies!

    I, too, agree with your assessment, which pains me most of all, as I committed to naming Lovett my desert island artist (with the caveat that I would be drop shipped any new album) long before this creative slide started!

    The problem isn’t that the new music isn’t engaging; it’s just isn’t in the same realm as his best work. Who, when in the mood to listen to some Lyle Lovett, would ever select Natural Forces over Ensenada? Release Me over Pontiac? Nobody, that’s who! So… I’ll be eager to listen to what he records next, as I haven’t even yet purchased Release Me, which I would never have anticipated as I counted down the days to the release of Natural Forces.

    Of course, I could happily live on my island with my favorite Lyle Lovett albums. I could always ask the pilot to drop ship some books or movies instead šŸ™‚

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