Lyle @ Home

From worldwide tours to stolen moments in the saddle, Lyle Lovett carries the spirit of his family home everywhere he goes.

By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

As he recounts well-worn stories about his family farm in Klein, Texas, or croons softly over the twang of his guitar, Lyle Lovett’s voice is unmistakable—just like his seat on a horse, his tall Texan silhouette and his deep, abiding love for the Lone Star State, where he was born and raised. In conversation, it’s a soft, gravelly voice, cultured and distinctly Southern, warmed with kindness and steeped in authenticity. In singing, that voice imbues each song with the perfect blend of bluesy soul, country depth and folky individuality—a recipe that’s enabled him to create 13 albums, release 25 singles, travel the globe on tour and win four Grammy awards. Although he’s been sharing his music with the world since 1976, Lyle says his enduring love for music has little to do with performing and everything to do with the unadulterated joy of simply making music.

“When you’re in the middle of a song, it’s hard to be anywhere else,” Lyle said. “It’s the pure pleasure of immersion. Singing or playing an instrument can take your mind and your consciousness elsewhere and out of your physical reality. That’s a wonderful feeling, and it’s something anybody can experience on any instrument in any room in their house or on their front porch. It doesn’t require an audience to experience that.”

A lifelong horseman, Lyle also learned long ago that he could experience that same all-encompassing joy on the back of a good horse, with soft hands that communicate through leather reins like guitar strings.

“One thing I love about riding is that your body and mind are totally consumed by what you’re doing,” Lyle said. “There are few activities in life that afford you that kind of escape. You don’t have to be in a horse show to do that. You can experience all that just by riding and connecting and communicating with your horse.”

Long Tall Texan

Many cowboys have a story of the ancestral family farm that’s since been lost to the irresistible march of suburban development and progress, but in Lyle’s case, that story has a happy ending. Lyle, 63, was born and raised in the small community of Klein, Texas, near Houston, and he has fond memories of growing up just across the pasture from his mother’s family.

“My mom was from a family of seven, and my grandparents gave each of their children an acre or two to build homes on. That’s how my parents got their home site, which was in a corner of the pasture that had been the hog pen years before. That’s where I grew up, and we always had horses,” Lyle said. “My parents bought me a Shetland pony when I was 2, but I have even earlier memories of being little and riding in front of my dad.”

This is an excerpt from the spring 2022 issue of Chrome—get Chrome magazine by becoming an APHA member at apha.com/join.