On November 14th, 2009 I was very excited to find myself at the National Arts Centre to see Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. This was the very same room where I first saw Lyle Lovett, not counting the time I happened to catch his appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was about thirteen years old. I’ll never forget it; I was sitting on the floor in the living room of our house on the corner of Yonge and Major Mackenzie and this strange little man on the tv was singing Here I Am. When he got to the phrase “Make it a cheeseburger” I completely lost it. It blew my mind in a way I can’t describe except to say that everything I thought I knew about music went out the window with those four words.
I would say I fell in love with Lyle after seeing him on Carson that night but if I did I immediately dropped him like a hot potato. I didn’t follow an inch of his career after that night and left him completely ignored until my girlfriend brought him up almost twenty years later. She suggested we go see him at the NAC, I shrugged my shoulders, she bought me a ticket and finally, I fell in love with Lyle Lovett.
One thing about Lyle is he is really good at making great songwriting look easy. Of course it takes a whole lot of work from a very talented person to achieve that kind of magic and like I say, Lyle Lovett is that hard working talent.
But you know, at this show he started making it look a bit harder. Lyle was touring his new album Natural Forces, a less-than-stellar collection of songs that ironically sounds unnaturally forced, as did much of the material he played at this concert.
A standout squirmer was a song called Pantry, a cheesy list of food-related double entendres capped with the shamelessly catchy and utterly painful chorus “Keep in in your pantry.” Unfortunately it’s the prime memory I get whenever I think of this concert, and yes, it was that bad.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some of the Lyle magic died for me that night. All because of one song? you might be asking, to which I reply: yes. Lyle put the Pantry song on his album twice, placing an acoustic version as the album’s closing track. And if Lovett is putting that kind of faith in such an amateurish piece of crap (it sounds like I could have written it, fer crying out loud), well, he’s either lost it or he’s in a pretty deep slump. Either way he’s no longer the shining god I once thought he was.
On November 14th, 2009 I saw the chinks in his armour and the glue on his unicorn horn; the snowflake melted in my hot hand.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Lyle, but not in that way anymore.