Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lyle and the Ladies

The long, tall Texan was back in town, and I and five of the women I love most in this world went to see him on Monday ...

Lyle Lovett is the thinking woman's man. A degree in journalism honed his observational and writing skills so that his lyrics range from wry to reflective to spiritual to melancholic to outright humourous, and he writes music that matches the many moods and genres reflected in his repertoire. He can make other musicians' songs his own too - when he sings "Smile", from the movie Hope Floats, he surgically removes your heart, meticulously sews you up, washes away the blood spatters and then politely offers it back to you on a bone china platter.

The casual observer might remember his crazy hair from the 80s and see only the irregular planes of his face, a face truly "carved by the wind and the sun", as they used to say in old Harlequin romance novels (I wonder, did they have Lyle's face in mind when they described their heroes thus?!). Lyle Lovett himself said, in 1996,

"There was a piece in Newsweek a while back, and they used a picture of Denzel Washington as an example of what people find attractive, and they used my picture as an example of what people find unattractive. I thought, " ... this is like having your picture next to the definition of 'ugly' in the dictionary!"

But if eyes are windows to the soul, when you look through those windows there's a magnicent view, encompassing far more than the Lone Star State but encapsulating everything good about it ... 

After the previous weekend, which I had put exhaustedly and thankfully behind me, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday with the happiness that I was seeing this singer with these women and the day started to get brighter. First thing in the morning I shot them all an email that read in part, "Well, it’s a special occasion – hearing my favourite artist in the company of my favourite women – and so I’m wearing red (it is such a special occasion for me that If I were an old woman, I would wear purple …!)"

And right after I sent it, I started to miss Mum. I think that if she'd had a chance she might have enjoyed Lyle. I wished that she could have been one of the women with me on this evening. As I went on with the business of the day, some of the lustre seemed to have been dimmed. Feeling somewhat maudlin, I moped Godward, "I know you love me, but I really, really want to know that you love me today."

Later on in the morning I was talking with Dad on the phone about picking up a book I had left in his car, which I had used for the grocery run on Friday. He mentioned that he had also found a brown wallet in the car. I told him I didn't have a brown wallet, but I would be seeing the sisters and would take it along with me in case it was one of theirs.

Right before I left for Calgary -- dressed in red, from coat to dress to  4-inch "chip-kicker" (as Lyle would call them!) shoes I stopped at Dad's place. Dad was going to be in a meeting and so I had asked him to leave the book and wallet outside for me. As soon as I saw the wallet, I knew it didn't belong to any of the girls: it was red and it was Mum's! It was a gift from her, and from God, to me -- Dad came outside to confirm that he had realized it was indeed hers. All this time and all those car cleanings and that wallet had never surfaced; and just on the morning I had made my bold red outfit statement and was desperately missing my other favourite lady who would have "got it," her wallet showed up ... I told Dad that I was keeping it; there could be no question it was meant for me!

After that, how could the evening be anything but wonderful? The sound quality at some points in the concert left something to be desired, but Lyle was his charming, self-deprecating, genius self. And as if to weave all the threads of the day together for me, he sang the song he had written for his father upon the latter's death, "You were always there." And we all knew exactly what he meant:

One unexpected joy was the presence of Arnold McCuller, in my opinion one of the best back-up singers anywhere; he records his own music too, but he is in his glory duelling in duets with James Taylor and Lyle Lovett. Arnold was in fine form this evening and his clear tenor soared throughout the Jubilee auditorium, a celestial complement to Lyle's spare, precise vocals.

All of us left the concert hall feeling like we had been sprinkled with Texas-sized fairy dust.

Mum would have been charmed. I have to think she knew about the evening, knew that her girl was wishing she were there.

Here's a song Lyle sang at the concert that has also been used as an advertisement for Texas tourism and that will give you a glimpse into his style, his wit and his subtle humour (scroll down to the 15th clip -- but hey, check 'em all out! Maybe we'll see you on his next trip to Alberta!):

Oh, and my ticket is in Mum's wallet, tucked away with my most treasured souvenirs.


  1. I am a-brim, having read what you writ. I salute you for recognizing these small and unforgettable gifts.
    Yer old pal,

  2. I miss you, sweet Jane! You're one of my highly treasured women and you would have been there that night if you lived nearby. xo


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...