Lyle Lovett returns to Breckenridge with his Acoustc Group on Sunday, March 1
If you go
What: Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group, part of BCA Presents, a program of year-round concerts, lectures and special events presented by Breckenridge Creative Arts
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 1
Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge
Cost: Tickets are $75, or $95 for VIP, which includes priority seating in the first four rows and a pre-performance cocktail reception
More information: Buy tickets at www.breckcreate.org, or call (970) 453-3187
One random question
Q: Tell me about your song “Penguins”: “I don’t go for fancy cars/ For diamond rings or movie stars/ I go for penguins/ Oh Lord, I go for penguins” — what was that all about?
A: A girl I went to school with, she was obsessed with penguins. She had them on everything she owned, penguins. Her dorm room was covered in penguin paraphernalia, and I thought it was really funny and silly, so I made that song up to make fun of her. But now, all these years later, people send me penguin stuff all the time. It’s sort of a joke that backfired on me. My office is full of penguin paraphernalia, and I was just being silly and teasing this person.
Lyle Lovett grew up listening to his parents’ record collection, sitting at home alone while Mom and Dad were at work, spinning LPs of everything from Ray Price to Ray Charles. Guitar lessons and choir led to a spot in a cousin’s band, performing pop, rock and outlaw country covers at school and church functions.
By the time Lovett was 18 and playing gigs around Austin, Texas, he’d collected a repertoire spanning many of the great Texas singer-songwriters, rattling off a list of names that included Guy Clark, B.W. Stevenson and Willie Nelson.
“When I started learning those songs and learning how to play them, I started taking my idea of what a song could be and should be from those songwriters,” he said. “In terms of writing and shaping my idea of what a song is, those writers were very important to me.”
As he continued playing, Lovett discovered other great songwriters, from John Prine to pop legends Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dillon to James Taylor and Jackson Browne. The list of influences grew into the realm of blues, peppered with names such as Muddy Waters and Lead Belly and Texas greats Lightnin’ Hopkins, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, and his brother, Rocky, who played every week in Houston, a town Lovett said was a melting pot for music.
Thinking back on all of the songs that he holds dear, Lovett said they’re representative of a variety of styles and themes. Any kind of good music, regardless of genre, was woven into the fabric of his experience.
“When you learn songs, you don’t care about the genre,” Lovett said, explaining his wide-ranging catalog of musical muses. “Genres aren’t like a club affiliation.”
This collection of motley musical influences contributed to the evolution of Lovett’s craft, but despite a career spanning more than three decades, accumulating four Grammy awards and recording more than a dozen albums, no matter how successful he became, he said it was never about competing with other musicians.
“This whole culture of competition that we’ve put forward through TV, with all the music contests,” he said. “There have always been contests, but it seems so pervasive at this point. The thing about art of any kind, it’s not a sport, but it’s treated like a sport.”
Lovett remembered a particular Songwriters in the Round show, where he was on stage performing with Guy Clark. Someone from the audience shouted out a challenge, encouraging one artist to upstage the other.
“(Guy Clark) stopped and said, ‘Songwriting is not a competitive sport,’” Lovett said. “The thing about art is you can appreciate something without having to compare it something else. You can look at two pieces of art and not have to declare a winner, and music is like that.
“You don’t have to pick one song over another song, one singer-songwriter over another singer-songwriter. You can enjoy what each one has to offer. It isn’t like a game, where somebody outscores somebody else.”
WAY OUT WEST
From cutting his teeth in the Texas music scene to jaunts through Hollywood in support of his acting career, Lovett’s said he always feels great when he’s out West and in the mountains. His eight-stop winter tour has taken him from Modesto, California, to his final show at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge on Sunday, March 1.
“There’s something that’s just really nice about being out West,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed it, just the expanse of it, just the big scale of everything. … I woke up this morning — we drove just to Glenwood — woke up here in Glenwood, looked out the window, and it looks like Christmas. That is always inspiring.”
Lovett last made the trek to Breckenridge in 2011 for an intimate show with fellow songwriter John Hiatt and returns this time around with his acoustic group. He said he’s has a soft spot in his heart for Breck since the first time he skied here in 1983.
“My dad and I had never skied ever,” he said. “It was just the two of us, so we went to Breckenridge and had a great time. Since coming back to Breck the last few years a couple of times, I wouldn’t have recognized the place, from the way it looked in 1983. It was very small and really charming. It’s really nice now, and still charming, but not so small.
“It was one street, one road, when I was there in ’83, and everything was just on the main street, just a few shops and a few restaurants, and you could walk from one end to the other. It’s really grown into something now.”
There won’t be opportunities for skiing on this trip, as Lovett flies straight home from Denver to work on new projects, writing songs that germinated on the road and getting ready for his next record.
He said he feels lucky that every day of his life he gets to do what he lives to do, something he never aspired to when he was first starting out.
“I get to play music with really talented people, and that always makes it really fun,” Lovett said. “I have fun every night I step on stage with the guys I play with. Whenever you work with people who are really great at what they do and love what they do, it’s inspiring. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to live my life this way and make a living this way.”
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