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Rory McLeod Interview
"I sing for all ages, I'm not trying to be different, the next 'new'
thing. It seems that the rebellious nature of music has always
stood to challenge the old order but there are 'young-old' folks
and 'old-young' folks who have been fighting all their lives for the
"I want my songs to keep memory alive; I suppose I'm trying to
tell history from working peoples point of view. Politics to me is
people; it covers everything from the way you touch your
partner/lover in bed and look after your old folks or your family,
to the workshop floor, housing, health care, trespass laws, our
rights to organise as a community, etc"
In his travels, McLeod not only acquires new material and new
life experiences, but he also brings his past and present along
with him. As he puts it: "The more I go away, the more I feel
rooted in my own traditions, in my own language, my own
community where I'm from. It becomes stronger somehow in what
I sing about. When I go away I feel like I take all my family with
me. I sing songs about my Grandma, so it's like I'm taking my
Grandma along with me, I'm taking some of the anger too. We
were fighting evictions for a while, so I take some of the anger of the community with me, and I
convey that, maybe, in some of the songs I sing."
"The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all of your time."
"The government are trying to overthrow the people, their excuse is; 'if we don't have enough money
it's because poor people are hoarding it."
"It takes 10-15 years to become an overnight success"
"I haven't written many songs recently, I have been writing letters rather than songs. Maybe I should
get all the people to sing the letters back to me."
(See also Dirty Linen #59 Interview, USA, August/September 1995 and Rory's article/letter from
China - Folk Roots Jan/Feb 1990 #79/80)
Lyle Lovett Interview
Lovett grew up in a tiny community settled by his
grandparents just outside of Houston, Texas. The
only child of two Exxon employees, he got his start
in the music business as a teenager, playing guitar
and singing the songs of his country-western idols
on the local club circuit. At Texas A&M University,
he majored first in history, then graduated with a
double major in German and journalism. He
continued singing and writing country songs and
gained a small but loyal group of fans with his
witty, cerebral lyrics, skilled musicianship and, of
course, that lonesome voice. As his star rose,
Lovett was frequently compared to k.d. lang; like
lang, Lovett tempered his passion for country music
with an intelligence about the craft, and his fans
tended more toward the "appreciate country, love a
sardonic take on it" crowd than the true-blue, Hank
Williams by way of Billy Ray Cyrus camp.
If Lovett's songs reveal a self-effacing, quietly
knowing character -- the kind of guy who gets the
joke, even when (maybe especially when) he is the
joke -- his brief but memorable film performances
(particularly in Robert Altman's "The Player" and
"Short Cuts") suggest that an extremely sturdy, if
quirky, character lies beneath his shy exterior.
But what's not so apparent about Lovett is just how
comfortable he is in his own skin. He is a man who
may seem to reveal himself completely in his songs,
to offer himself entirely to the listener, yet he's
highly skilled in the art of self-protection. To be
sure, this instinct was partly born of necessity: In
1993, Lovett married Julia Roberts and found
himself the subject of intense and not entirely
flattering media attention. Throughout the brief
marriage and subsequent divorce, Lovett handled
himself with aplomb, gamely answering questions
about Roberts' bathroom habits and other trivia, yet
successfully dodging inquiries about what brought
the couple together in the first place -- as well as
what drove them apart a year later. After the
divorce, Lovett released an album of songs titled "I
Love Everybody," all of which he claims were
written prior to his marriage. His most recent
album, "The Road to Ensenada" has a similar
flavor: intensely confessional, yet revealing little
concrete information other than the size of his hat
(he wears a 7).
Currently, Lovett can be seen playing a drug dealer
in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and a sheriff in
"The Opposite of Sex." The latter film stars
Christina Ricci as an oversexed, underloved
burgeoning femme fatale. Lovett reluctantly busts
her gay half-brother (Martin Donovan) on a
child-molestation charge. If it sounds preposterous
and implausible, it is; the good news is that Lovett,
as the soft-spoken widower with an affinity for
cheap beer and head massages, steals every scene
Recently, Lovett was in San Francisco promoting
"The Opposite of Sex" at the San Francisco
International Film Festival. He spoke to Salon about
his upcoming film and music projects, and why he
hopes he'll someday lose his creative spark.
Do you still live in Texas?
Yes, I still live in what's left of the family farm, in a
house that my grandfather built in 1911. I feel really
proud to have been able to hold on to part of my
grandpa's land, and live in his house. And, as much
as I'm gone, I couldn't imagine living someplace
How much time do you spend there now?
All of my time, when I'm not working somewhere
else. I spent most of this year in Los Angeles
recording my new album, which will be out in
September. It's called "Step Inside This House,"
after a song on the album written by a Texas
songwriter named Guy Clark. This is an album of
songs by people I know from Texas. I didn't write
any of the songs. These are songs I've played for
years, like the first music I played back in clubs
when I was 18. Guy Clark, Walter Hiatt, Eric
Taylor, Michael Murphy ... there are 10 different
songwriters represented, and there are 21 songs, all
by people I know.
Sounds like a fun project
Really fun. Really fun. Some of the songs are
previously unrecorded -- the guys that wrote them
never recorded them. The Guy Clark song, "Step
Inside This House," was the first song he ever
wrote. He was a big help to me when I was starting
out. He was someone whose music I really
When I first went to Nashville in 1984 with a demo
tape, I was just trying to get other people interested
in my songs, because I thought that was a realistic
way to pursue the business. I didn't go to Nashville
trying to get a record deal. I felt like I had some
songs that other people could record. I played my
own songs in clubs at home, and I was interested in
being a songwriter and performer, but it never
occurred to me that I could get a record deal
myself. It just seemed like too much to hope for.
But it seemed like I might be able to get other
people interested in my songs. So I went to
Nashville with a demo tape, and I had a meeting
with this guy at the publishing company that
represented Guy Clark. I was surprised at how
open people were to taking a meeting and listening
to my music. They were all, in the most positive
way, really discouraging.
But I had reached a point -- playing the same six or
eight clubs, making the rounds -- and it was time
for me to either learn how the business worked and
take a step forward, or get a real job. So I went to
Nashville to investigate. I mentioned to this guy at
CBS that I was a fan of Guy Clark's, and he gave
my tape to Guy. And as I started going into
Nashville every month or so, to take meetings and
try and generate interest, I kept running into people
who said, "Guy Clark played me your song." Guy
listened to my tape, liked it and started playing it for
everyone, so he was really instrumental to my
getting a record deal. And all of this happened
before I even met him. It was an unsolicited show
of support from one of my musical heroes. So I
was very excited to record the first song he ever
So is this album a sort of tribute to him?
It's really a thank you. I've always admired his
songwriting, and I've played the song many times.
All of these songs for me acknowledge how these
writers and songs have been a part of my life.
[Jennie Yabroff, Salon.com]