A Conversation with Lyle Lovett
By Melanie Saxton
Lyle Lovett was born and raised in the small town of Klein — an area that has grown up with him. He remembers a time when agriculture wasn’t corporate and local farmers supplied produce to the grocery stores. He also has fond recollections of the dairy farm his uncle once operated from his family’s property. His ties to the area span generations. In fact, the town of Klein was named after his great-grandfather.
“There’s a story behind that,” says Lovett. “My great-grandfather, Adam Klein, was one of a few with dependable transportation back then. He’d pick up supplies and mail for others who would visit to collect their belongings. The saying became, ‘We’re going to Klein’… and the town was eventually named in his honor.”
Lovett feels the values of the older communities are still evident even in modern times and finds happiness in preserving the traditions. “Change is inevitable, but it’s nice to see people every day whom I’ve grown up with knowing that they’ve experienced the transitions but still appreciate the past.”
Lovett’s German heritage has made an imprint on his life. He earned degrees in Journalism and German from Texas A&M in 1979 and studied abroad in Germany. He’s a lifelong member of the Trinity Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and attended Trinity Lutheran School through eighth grade.
“My mother and grandfather also attended the school,” says Lovett, who graduated from Klein High. He has relatives scattered across I-35 in central Texas and still loves to visit old Lutheran churches. “Last year I visited the family cemetery in East Texas and it reminded me of a video Wayne Miller shot for me there in 1990. You can see the old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Serbin on the video page of LyleLovett.com — “Trucks, Tortillas, and Tombstones” (Part 3).” His faith flows in his work, most notably in his song “Church” from the album Joshua Judges Ruth, and “Pass Me Not” (With George Duke) from the album Leap of Faith.
Memories All Over The Houston Map
He enjoys the suburbs in and around Houston and has left his mark from Klein to Katy to Fort Bend to Cy-Fair to The Woodlands. Lyle is well known at Katy’s Great Southwest Equestrian Center and is a fan of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. As a dedicated horseman he’s involved in breeding, riding and showing reining and reined cow horses. Smart And Shiney, his Quarter horse stallion, has his own Facebook page. “Neighboring Cypress was our football rival and I grew up watching the Cypress Rodeo. As a boy I remember watching my parents dancing at the historic Tin Hall,” says Lovett.
Many remember Lyle Lovett Motor Sports in Stafford. “One of my favorite childhood memories is of racing motorcycles, a sport I’m still fond of. Richard Sanders gave me my first job when I was 14 and I bought the shop from him. He founded Wild West Honda in Katy and the original Cycle Shack in Bellaire,” says Lovett.
He’s also fond of north Houston, especially the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion where he’s performed on many occasions. “It’s as nice an amphitheater as anywhere in the country. I was in high school when they first started building it. The work of George Mitchell, from Galveston to The Woodlands is admirable — The Woodlands really is a ground-breaking master-planned development.”
Aside from horses and anything on wheels, music takes center stage. Lovett is a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, composer and actor who from his very first album in 1986 has woven a tapestry of western, folk, swing, jazz, blues, and gospel. His career includes 15 albums, four Grammy awards, and the Americana Music Association’s inaugural Trailblazer Award. Most recently he was named the 2011 Texas State Musician. He’s also appeared in feature films such as The Player, Short Cuts, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Cookie’s Fortune, as well as television shows such as Mad About You and Castle.
Fans have been waiting for his latest album, Release Me, which debuted Feb. 28. It is his final collaboration with Curb Records, the label he’s worked with since signing on in 1985. This wonderful mix of old and new originals has delighted Lyle Lovett aficionados at home and around the globe and includes two selections from Songs for the Season, the Christmas-themed EP he recently released. “The Girl With the Holiday Smile” is an original, while “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a holiday standard.
A Mission to Preserve the Land
Lovett tours frequently and appeared this past November in Washington D.C. with James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss and others to celebrate country music at White House. His work takes him away from home, although his fiancée, April Kimble, is often able to travel with him.
“April and I have been together 14 years,” says Lovett. “She’s a remarkable, wonderful person.” Lyle is an only child but has a large number of first cousins and always felt like he was part of a big family. His mother, Bernell Klein Lovett, is 82 and was born on the family’s working farm — the very place Lovett calls home. His father, William, passed away in 1999. He has one remaining uncle, and each generation has passed land to the next. Lyle oversees the property. “
“My mission is to preserve and care for the land, the buildings and the heritage.” The beautiful surroundings make him happy to be a Texan and a resident of Klein. Certainly fans in and around Houston are proud he is one of them.
Find out more about Lyle, his music and his tour schedule at lylelovett.com.
The Man and His Music
Lyle Lovett’s albums span four decades
1986- Lyle Lovett
1989- Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
1992- Joshua Judges Ruth
1994- I Love Everybody
1996- The Road to Ensenada
1998- Step Inside This House
1999- Live in Texas
2000- Dr. T & The Women
2001- Anthology Volume One Cowboy Man
2003- Smile — Songs From The Movies
2003- My Baby Don’t Tolerate
2007- It’s Not Big It’s Large
2009- Natural Forces
2012 – Release Me