Here’s one of those fun cases where the birthday of a loved one falls on a Random Weekend.
It gives me a chance to play my favorite musical game, wherein I say “whatever song plays next will sum up the rest of your life” or “whatever song plays next describes our marriage” and so on.
So, whatever song plays next is dedicated to my lovely daughter Fiona, who turns 10 today.
My fourth favorite album of 1992 is Lyle Lovett’s fourth studio album, Joshua Judges Ruth. This was the first new material released by Lovett since I’d discovered his jazz-blues-country masterpiece …and His Large Band.
Joshua Judges Ruth, cleverly named after three consecutive books of the Bible, strayed even further from Lovett’s country roots. The only true country tune here is ‘She’s Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To.’ Lovett’s deadpan humor isn’t on display here, either, as most of these songs deal with loss of love or life.
Every several months a Lyle Lovett song pops up on Random Weekends, and every several months I bemoan the fact that the man hasn’t put out an album worthy of his talents in nearly two decades.
The Road to Ensenada, Lovett’s best album, came out in 1996. In the 19 years since, he’s put out five studio albums, three of which consisted mostly of covers. The other two were pale imitations of the great albums he released during the first decade of his career.
Here’s a lovely track from one of Lyle Lovett’s best albums, 1989’s Lyle Lovett and His Large Band.
This album picked up where Lovett’s Pontiac left off, splitting its focus between traditional country, jazz and blues. ‘Nobody Knows Me’ falls in the album’s second half with the rest of the country songs.
Here’s a song from Lyle Lovett’s 2009 album Natural Forces, written by Texas singer-songwriter Vince Bell.
Lovett stopped making albums of strong original material more than 20 years ago. His last great record, The Road to Ensenada, came out in 1992. That’s just crazy.
Since then he’s been content to play covers and a few lazy originals, apparently content to run out his record contract with half-hearted effort.
Whenever a Random Weekend selection pops up, I first search the blog to make sure I haven’t featured it before. I’ve been doing this long enough that I’ve completely forgotten writing about some songs.
When I searched for “Texas,” because the album featuring this song is called Live in Texas, five of the first dozen or so results were Lyle Lovett songs. Some had Texas in the title, some had it in the lyrics, some included references to Texas by me.
My sister has long named Lyle Lovett as her desert island artist (with the rather fanciful prerequisite that all of his future material would be delivered to the island as well).
Given Lovett’s spotty output over the last decade, that “future material” provision might not count for much anymore, but that doesn’t diminish the extraordinary quality of his first several albums.