I’ll Bring the Whiskey… John Hiatt, Bring the Family.

John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett.  For at least one of them who no longer drinks, there was an awful lot of talking about whiskey and booze.  I guess that’s part of the life… and now, no longer part of it.

John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett.  Two men, two chairs, two tables, three guitars.  Hiatt plays a little harder I guess… or just wanted the variety.  It’s amazing how much of an exquisite evening was had at the wonderful new Valley Performing Arts Center last night.

Not amazing like in surprised.  I have seen both before, but not together… Well, unless you count me watching them on Letterman.  Lyle Lovett is always astounding.  His voice is so powerful and stunning, and delivered with such ease.  John Hiatt does not have that purity, but the rasp and strain are filled with a raw emotion and openness that cannot be taught.  All that living… and all those years on the road.

Their rapport is easy and quite funny and they genuinely enjoy each other.  I would love to know how truly spontaneous it is, and how spur of the moment their song choices might actually be.  They alternate back and forth, each playing one of their tunes.  Occasionally they would chime in on the other’s with a guitar lick or harmony.  Beautiful.

My only question was why, with so much talk of Guy Clark, did neither play a Guy Clark tune?  I was so hoping Lyle would pull out “Step Inside This House.”  Other than that… and perhaps singing a Townes Van Zandt song, the night was perfect.

The audience seemed to know Lyle’s songs more, as they would applaud after just a few initial notes… John’s appreciation came more at the end of each tune, although as he started getting into more familiar territory, the applause would come earlier.  The venue was a stunner (a mini Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a little mix of the Disney Concert Hall) and so was the sound.  This is quite an addition to the Valley.

Of course, brings me to…

John Hiatt – Bring the Family

Last night he did great versions of “Memphis in the Meantime,” “Thing Called Love” (Bonnie Raitt’s cover was a monster hit!) and one of my all-time favorite songs ever… “Have A Little Faith in Me.”  This may be one of the most romantic and beautiful songs ever put down on paper and record.  It slays me and the version here on the album is the best.  I just love the simplicity and power of the piano and the pleasant strain of his voice.  This whole album is filled with such naked and wrenching emotion.  But that’s what makes him such a potent singer-songwriter.  He hides from nothing and is unafraid to write about what he sees in the mirror, deep flaws and all.

According to iTunes these were all demos he recorded in four days while he was between record labels.  A&M released them as is.  Wow.  I had no idea.  How fricking crazy is that???

His personal history of alcoholism and the suicide of his second wife obviously have a strong impact on his music… and it proves once again that out of the pain of artists comes some of the most important and beautiful art.  It’s just a matter of channeling it in the right way.

Some of his usual suspects are here, like Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner… Nice lineup… and although their future efforts together never quite worked as well (although I like Little Village… band name and album.) we are lucky to have this gem to listen to.


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Filed under Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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