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Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

I went to an acoustic concert with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt last night. Just the two of them with their guitars, playing songs in turn and engaging in conversation between the numbers. Both of them are the sorts of singer-songwriters who excel at telling stories in their music - something I knew about Lyle Lovett, who's been one of my favorite artists for years, but that I didn't realize about John Hiatt until now.

The shtick for the evening was that John Hiatt would play a song, and then Lyle Lovett would play one with a "related theme." It was decidedly a set playlist, but it didn't feel quite as fixed as some sets because of the banter between the men. At one point, John Hiatt played his song "The Tiki Bar is Open," which references tiki bars, Daytona Beach and Dale Earnhart, among other things. After the song was over, Lyle Lovett asked him a few questions about the song, during which he said the following (which I wrote down in my little Moleskine cahier, because I am geeky enough to carry them wherever I go, in case inspiration strikes or I find a great quote):

"Did you ever notice that sometimes a song means something different to a given listener than they do to us when we write them? . . . Sometimes, it's better."

Lyle went on to say that he'd been wondering whether listeners from a younger generation were wondering if the song was about Tiki Barber. Funny, yes?

I know what Lyle Lovett was talking about in that quote above - sometimes when I share a poem with someone new, I get interesting feedback. Readers - and, evidently, listeners - bring their own history and expectations to your work, and they make associations based on those things. Sometimes, they make unusual leaps (like adding Tiki Barber in - although if one is going to add someone to the mix, Tiki Barber is an excellent choice - rowr!). Sometimes, they attribute extra depth to what you write. Maybe those depths or themes or ideas were there and you were simply unaware of them, or maybe they are the product of a reader's imagination. But as Lyle Lovett said, "sometimes, it's better."

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. Readers definitely bring their own experiences and expectations to a text. And I know I do it as a reader myself!
Feb. 8th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
We all do. We can't help ourselves.
Feb. 8th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
I saw that show...
...almost a year ago.


It really appeared to be spontaneous but I remember that line...

Regardless, I was most entertained and the music was great!
Feb. 8th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Re: I saw that show...
It was a great show. There was a woman we met at the parking garage who's seen the show three other places, and she said that they do tend to mix up the set list a bit, as well as changing up their comments, but that there's a lot of overlap.
Feb. 8th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
That sounds like a fun concert.

And I always bring note cards and pen to concerts to catch quotes and jot down the play list. Geeky R Us.
Feb. 8th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
I only wish I'd thought to write down the playlist. D'oh!
Feb. 8th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it! They are playing here later this month - unfortunately, I will not be going to see them. *sigh*
Feb. 8th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
Sorry you won't get to hear them. Just blast a few CDs and pretend.
Feb. 8th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
I can do that!
Feb. 9th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
Sometimes readers "read" too much into what was written. Sometimes what's written is meant to be taken at face value. Sometimes readers find hidden depths and meanings making the writing even better than intended. Accidental genius. That's cool.
Feb. 9th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Accidental genius is the only kind I'm liable to be found guilty of.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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