You know that fun will be fun when the first few minutes just like the interviewee are trying to get to know the journalist.
That is exactly what happened during our recent telephone conversation with singer, singer and actor Lyle Lovett, who went to Wyoming with his acoustic group to play Thursday at Cheyenne Civic Center.
After Lovett truly asked me where she went to school, where she was from, etc., some common land emerged: Lovett studied journalism at Texas A&M University, where he wrote for the student paper and he learned that journalism was not certain about journalism (but with respect for those in the media industry anyway).
Four Grammy Awards, one of Texas State Musicians’ titles and 14 later albums, are clearly written and performed, not writing articles, and never looking back.
You have gone in Cheyenne before, right? What do you like about playing here?
Yes, we were at Cheyenne Civic Center before, and you know, it is interesting for me, for people. My audience is quite consistent from one side of the country to another. It takes people with a certain sensitivity to listen to my songs, and there is a friendly and engaging audience everywhere we play with them. Sometimes out in the West, however, they can be a little more vocal, and I especially love. You were always welcome in Wyoming, and probably Cheyenne played more than anywhere else in Wyoming.
I worked for many years with John Hagen, from Casper, and that is why I am home in Wyoming. I usually live with a native person, but he called about 10 days before the start of the journey and said he had to repair his ruptured ear drum, so he chose to do so instead of finding a journey. This is the first time I will be playing in Wyoming without John, but it’s nice to be associated with his home base when we are there. These wide open spaces – there is something about the land laying that affects how you feel and think.
How does your building outside Houston help you to contact Wyomingites?
Yes, there are commonality. I am a farming family – my parents worked at home, but my grandfather was a farmer, and I did farm work growing up. There is something about the independent feeling of people in Wyoming, the kind of self-sufficient, independent and responsible nature of people who remind me of how I grew up. Hard work too – that everyone reminds me of the town.
Many genres are thrown out as you describe your music. How would you describe your sound?
I am always very supportive of the people I have been with. They are always supporting my creative approach, which is really just writing songs across the program in terms of musical genres. My parents had country records, and jazz and blues records, and I listened to them all, and I never felt the need to choose one style because some lyrical ideas are suitable for themselves to one type of better music than others, so some sort of say to this one idea where the song goes to music. I don’t think I start thinking, “I would like to write a blues song or a country,” I let the lyrical idea shape the music. People who don’t listen to country music think of me as a country.
Why do you think you never felt you needed to go into a particular box?
Living in Houston, it is a large media market, with all sorts of music to listen to, so my musical flavor reflects my exposure to modern life. I grew up enjoying all kinds of music, I never felt the need to affirm loyalty to one style. When I was in high school, I had friends playing acoustic guitar as I did, and we listened and understood songs being driven by the acoustic guitar. I graduated in 1975, and in that time, artists who played acoustic guitar were pop artists like James Taylor. You could listen to a pop song on the radio and hear the acoustic guitar as the main part of the arrangement.
How have the music industry labels changed since you started in 1986?
I think things are more open than before. I think the boundaries have fallen down in a way, and that elements of each other are incorporated by different genres. You will hear in country music, you know that there is a lot of modern country music that you hear on roll radio or roll pop, so you hear that. We are not living in a bigger world when we are not exposed to everything, so it is very difficult not to affect what you hear and you do not want to demonstrate it. So we know only one thing, and in the early days, people would be geographically isolated and learn the closest to them, making it a great experience.
As I travel around the country, one of the things I love is regional differences, but they are smaller and smaller.
I like an old man when I say it, but we lost something when we lost the regional differences; that is one thing I love being out in the West.
In Wyoming, especially when you are in Wyoming, you know you are in Wyoming. If there is nothing else, we note that there is a little more space between people, and I think it gives people an opportunity to get involved in an open way and perhaps in a more friendly way.
My uncle talks about how crowded he is in Houston, where we live, and he says, “You put too many chickens in a chicken chop, and see what happens.”