2 concerts, 4 artists, 1 Music Lyric Monday

Quick warning – this post formatted really oddly and I can’t figure out how to fix it. You can read by scrawling the arrow at the bottom but if that’s too much work, no worries – I’ll catch you soon enough in the next post!

In the last two weeks, S. and I have seen four of our favorite artists in two different concerts. At the end of January, we traveled to Philadelphia for a long weekend inspired not by the stunning winter weather Philadelphia is famous for but rather for the coming together of two of our favorite artists, Patrick Sweany and Sonny Landreth. But I don’t want to talk about that concert until I talk about the more recent one we attended here in Pittsburgh, an acoustic gathering of John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett. For purposes of full discloser, Lyle Lovett is the odd man out, here – S. likes him quite a bit and I don’t mind popping in a cd of his now and then, but in the continuos soundtrack to our lives I don’t really think he belongs. John Hiatt, however, introduced us to Sonny Landreth and Sonny Landreth introduced us to Patrick Sweany, and as S. jokes someday Patrick Sweany will introduce us to another band and we will find ourselves in central Ohio, spending all of our vacation money to watch bands that will never cross Rolling Stone’s radar. So I’m not going to talk about Lyle Lovett here except to say he was very very good and very very funny and better than I could have hoped.

But John Hiatt? There. Are. No. Words. I still want to see him in a non-acoustic setting, because he didn’t really rock out the way I imagined he would, but his voice and his guitar playing were absolutely out of this world. And if you think as you are reading this that you haven’t heard John Hiatt, let me assure you, you have. Songs he’s written include “Have a Little Faith in Me,” “Are you Ready for a Thing Called Love” and “Memphis in the Meantime.”  I don’t even remember the first time I recognized Hiatt as himself but I believe it was the year we lived in Wheeling, West Virginia and what he offered – what all three of these incredible musicians offer – to me – is the possibility of escape. I want to move into their music, to live there forever.  For quite some time I considered Hiatt’s “Angel” my theme song although now, upon reviewing the lyrics, I’m not sure why:

They called you tookie in high school, you didn’t mind it too much
Kind of nice to have a nickname, kind of like they thought about it
You wish that it stuck with you, didn’t have to trade it in on
Some crazy lover’s pet name, wind up hurtin’ so much

It must have been the way he sings it, as though the song's narrator understands
everything there is to know about love and hate and joy and disappointment.
Each of Hiatt's songs come across like a novella, and when I listen to him I am
inspired, as a writer, to pour everything - EVERYTHING - into my novel, as he does
with his songs. Loneliness, loss, unbridled love, spiraling depression,
new love, old love - it's all there.

I've spent time on this blog already writing about the genius that is Sonny Landreth, and while I'm
sure many of his songs will appear here throughout the years on Music Lyric Monday,
I'm not going to write anymore about him today except to say anyone who can work in the word "reverie"
into a song deserves high praise. Instead, I want to write briefly about Patrick Sweany. S. and I saw
him for the first time a few years ago here in Pittsburgh and I think we both fell head over heels for his
sound, which is seriously, honestly, not like anything else I've ever heard before. 

Um...okay. This is why I don't write for Rolling Stone, actually. It's hard to find the words that don't
just gush uncritically, but then again, I am NOT a music critic and I guess if
I want to gush, I can. What Patrick Sweany does, like Hiatt and Landreth, is create music I want
to move into - I want to escape my perfectly fine life and hang out inside his songs.
And if it doesn't, oh well.
All three of these artists inspire me to write, to use my own creativity to create worlds where
love, hate, joy, sadness, romance, sex, loss and loneliness exist, and while new musicians and bands
continually join the ranks of the Ones I Love (most recently, The Hold Steady, James McMurtry and The Heartless
Bastards, 2 of 3 of which are thanks to my cousin), these are the artists I most
often pop in when I am at a loss in my writing process. They all remind me, in very
different ways, about the emotions that inspire us to action. Listening to music is an inextricable
part of my writing process and I really don't think I'd be spiraling towards the end of my novel and
my self-imposed March deadline if I didn't have Hiatt crooning about crossing muddy waters, Landreth
beckoning me to dance barefoot in a Louisiana bayou, or Sweany mooning over the curly haired girls who
make him cry.
What the best writing achieves, I think, is the ability for one to lose oneself in an
entirely different world than the one they inhabit, and all three of these song
writers achieve this. I fear they may be better writers than I will ever 


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5 Responses to 2 concerts, 4 artists, 1 Music Lyric Monday

  1. bloglily says:

    Courtney — being a total boob in the tech area, I cannot say exactly what has happened to your formatting, but it seemed to begin after your italics and I think there’s a thing on the dashboard where you can close up stuff like that. Maybe it will restore your formatting. Maybe not.

    Doesn’t matter, actually, because I was able to see that John Hiatt, Sonny Landreth and Patrick Sweany must be explored further. (By the way, I am totally with you on the charms of Lyle Lovett — I like him a lot, but don’t NEED him around all the time.)

  2. Pete says:

    Am also challenged in the tech dept but Lily’s advice sounds sensible. Am not familiar with the wonders of John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, Sonny Landreth or Patrick Sweany so I’m clearly musically challenged as well. Maybe Emily raved about Sonny Landreth. Anyway, will YouTube him and report back.

  3. Emily Barton says:

    Damn WordPress for screwing up the formatting on this terrific post. And damn me for being too lazy to get out and see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt when they were in Lancaster last Saturday night (to think you drove all the way to Philly for Sweany and Landreth, and I couldn’t be bothered to drive six miles).

  4. Thomma Lyn says:

    Music and writing — my two passions. I find that one inspires the other. If I’m going through a dry patch in writing, my music helps keep my creativity alive so that when I return to writing, I have a fresh, rejuvenated perspective. And my music feeds into my writing when it’s going well. And both writing and music are a refuge for me when I need space to recharge and space between me and the world.

  5. Courtney says:

    Well, all, unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to reformat this and I tried everything including retyping…somehow I messed the format up once and I have found it to be uncorrectable. But yes, please do check out the artists mentioned about and let me know what you think – I truly don’t think anyone will be disappointed!

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