For over 30 years, Klein, Texas’ own Lyle Lovett has used vivid characters and witty wordplay to further his home state’s musical legacy.
Lovett, born on Nov. 1, 1957, caught his first break straight out of Texas A&M University, when fellow songwriter Guy Clark heard Lovett’s demo cassette and shared it with friends around Nashville. In 1986, Lovett’s MCA Records debut proved him a worthy ally in Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakam and others’ winning battle against cookie-cutter country hits. From that first album, Lovett wrote songs rooted in country yet embracing jazz, folk and pop elements.
By the ‘90s, Lovett transitioned into a film career. His best-known role came with 1992’s The Player — less because of Lovett’s acting chops and more because he met his wife from 1993 to 1995, Julia Roberts, on set. But even after the mainstream lost interest in Lovett’s music and love life, he continued recording great albums and memorable singles; in fact, it could be argued that as a creative force onstage and in the studio, Lovett helped set the blueprint for Americana artists more interested in art than airplay.
For a taste of Lovett’s tender story-songs and his galloping nods to Texas’ role in the development of country music, check out these five selections. Over the past 30-plus years, Lovett’s released way too much great music for any Top 5 to be definitive, so think of these as examples of his musical versatility.