Any music aficionado worth their wax has their concessions to country music — Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash — those cowboys who have survived the dismal reinvention of their genre by the likes of Taylor Swift and Toby Keith. But, as a weekly confessor of my poor tastes, I claim no such parthenon of venerable country deities. I claim Lyle Lovett.
If you don’t know who that is, he’s that gawky Texan who was briefly married to Julia Roberts in the 90s. Still not ringing a bell? Go to YouTube and look him up. You’ll cringe at his weird face and at the mere fact that you’re listening to country. You’ll check your surroundings to make sure nobody catches you watching music videos that aren’t the live Mogwai La Route du Rock performances. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll notice that he has a great voice and often outlandish lyrics in a highly listenable package. Maybe you’ll get into it. Or not; I really don’t care either way.
What I do care about is that in his music, he unpretentiously delivers old-school country sentimentality with a cleverness, sincerity and eccentricity that carry the songs beyond the realm of the blue collar clichés with which Rascal Flatts is so impenitently proficient. Maybe this fact alone, dear music snob, is a reason to embrace Lyle.