Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lyle Lovett Nails Down The Details

I enjoyed reading this anecdote of a recent Lyle Lovett concert in Louisville, Kentucky. You can find the full Courier-Journal article by Jeffrey Lee Puckett (great name!) here, but I thought I'd just set out the "details" part of being a songwriter...

After his monitors cut out on him during the concert, Lovett used it to his advantage as relayed by the author:

While chatting up the audience during the 10-minute delay, Lovett shared a conversation he'd had earlier in the day with a Mrs. Lowery, a Louisvillian seated next to him on the plane into town. He remembered her religious affiliation, her curiosity about how Lovett liked hearing his own voice, and the fact that she had tickets to the show.

His retention was impressive and explained a lot about Lovett and his songwriting. He listens. If you don't listen, you can't tell stories because you don't learn new stories and, sooner or later, your stories turn stale or run dry. As technical glitches go, this one was illuminating.

The rest of the show was a testament to Lovett's gift for listening. His songs were filled with evocative characters, scenes and telling details, small observations that implied a bigger picture and a sharply examined life. You believed him, and in songwriting that's way more than half the battle.

To be a good listener... it's cliché, but that's part of having the Muse be with you... if you ain't listening, you wouldn't hear her anyway...

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