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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 same things".

"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 he's in.

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 else.

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 admired.

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 wrote.

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]

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