Lyle Lovett landed a gig performing in a restaurant in the summer of 1976 in Houston, Texas. At the time, Lovett, a student at Texas A&M University, hadn't put much faith in a music career. "It just didn't seem like a realistic ambition," he says. "I didn’t think it was something that would work out, so I pursued my studies, as well."
School was also where Lovett met fellow classmate Robert Earl Keen, who was studying English. The two shared a common appreciation for language. "I always enjoyed language growing up," Lovett says. "I was always interested in songs, and that's how these songs were written and crafted. The common thread for me was always language."
Lovett would go from singing in restaurants to a career spanning 13 albums and counting. He has won four Grammy awards and broken into the top 10 in the U.S. Billboard Top Country Songs chart. Keen, meanwhile, would go on to be inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with Lovett. The two will perform together at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Lovett has earned a reputation for his eclectic sound. The country crooner has been known to incorporate everything from Americana to jazz. This time around, he and Keen will be performing a stripped-down set, giving the audience a more intimate look at the two sharing a stage together.
"We trust each other so much that we can improvise the entire show," Lovett says. "We don't discuss what kind of songs we are going to play. It just kind of happens. When you know someone for that long, you feel safe."
This sort of bare-bones performance might seem unconventional, but it's rooted in Nashville tradition. After graduating from college, Lovett and Keen both headed to the country music capital of the world, where songwriters were known to get together to jam. Despite the organic nature of the show, Lovett promises that fans will get to hear some of their favorites. After all, those hits have allowed him to have such an expansive career.
"Just being able to do something you love, every day of your life, for your job is the biggest privilege," Lovett says. "So many folks have jobs that they don’t love and I’ve always been fortunate to do something that I love every day."