January 08, 2006
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Twenty years ago a lanky young country singer from East Texas headed to Milwaukee to open a concert for a raspy-voiced blues rocker.
Lyle Lovett arrived a day early for the show with Bonnie Raitt and got a call in his hotel room.
“She and her road manager and the fellow playing bass guitar with her were all up in Bonnie’s room playing cards, and they called me and said, ‘Hey, come on up. You want to play?'”
The two have been playing together ever since, even as their music and careers have veered in different directions.
Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett perform together in Franklin, Tenn. Both have managed remarkable longevity with a sound grounded in traditional American musical forms. While Raitt leans toward rock and Lovett country, shades of blues, gospel, jazz and folk color both of their signature sounds.
They were in Nashville recently to tape an upcoming episode of the Country Music Television series “Crossroads,” a show that pairs country singers with performers from other genres, usually rock and pop.
For Lovett, 48, and Raitt, 56, it was more a celebration of long roads than of crossroads. The show airs Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. CST.
“We’ve seen each other through love affairs, breakups, many, many albums and here we are,” Raitt reflected as they sat backstage.
When they first met and began touring, Lovett had just released his self-titled debut album and was being promoted as a mainstream country singer. The album produced three Top 20 singles, including “Cowboy Man.”
By his second album, 1988’s “Pontiac,” Lovett, who writes most of his own songs, was experimenting with a big-band sound.
Raitt was intrigued.
“He’s an absolute original,” she said.
Lovett, whose songs possess a wry, offbeat sense of humor, has had gold records and won Grammy Awards, including one for best country album for 1996’s “The Road to Ensenada.”
He became a celebrity, perhaps reluctantly, when he married actress Julia Roberts in 1993. The marriage lasted about two years and drew intense publicity. To this day, Lovett won’t discuss it in interviews.
For much of the 1970s and ’80s, Raitt interpreted the classic blues of musical heroes like Robert Johnson and Sippie Wallace as well as contemporary songwriters such as John Prine.
“I was a huge fan of Bonnie’s before I’d even dreamed I’d ever get to go out and really play anywhere besides just around my home,” Lovett said. “She had that effortless, powerful voice and that searing slide guitar.”
Raitt’s career floundered during the late 1980s, then she released the 1989 album “Nick of Time,” which shot to No. 1 and became the first in a string of wildly successful albums, yielding hits such as “Thing Called Love,” “Something To Talk About” and the ballad “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
When CMT asked Raitt about doing Crossroads, she didn’t have to think much about a musical partner.
“Of all the people I would have chosen, he was the only one I felt a connection with,” Raitt said.
Source Copyright ©: Lubbock Avalanche Journal CMT Crossroads