William Munoz

(Missoula Current) Get two singer-songwriter legends together on the same stage and the songs they play might give way to a conversation between two long-time friends who admire each other's craft.

Lyle Lovett and John Haitt shared with the sold-out Missoula audience their stories behind the story, giving a greater glimpse into the craft of songwriting. Often a singer-songwriter will be solo, telling the story in a monologue on stage. But with Lovett and Haitt, there were many moments that seemed very much unscripted.

Haitt went on and on in a rambling way when he stopped and mentioned that perhaps he needed to “take his meds.” The overwhelmingly older crowd showed their understanding, which led to Lovett to ask Haitt if he used a "pill caddy."

Lyle Lovett on stage in Missoula. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
Lyle Lovett on stage in Missoula. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)

Back and forth the two friends went until Lovett mentioned that, as he was at the airport to join up for this tour, he asked his wife Alice if he had taken his pills. Her response was “Maybe it's time to get a pill caddy.”

The struggle with getting old as a songwriter was poignant in that exchange. It was Haitt's turn to play a song, which they took turns doing. He then played 'Tennessee Plates,' a song about youth on the run from the law.

At the end of the song, Lovette asked Haitt if the discussion on pill caddys made him think of this song.

“Yes,” he said. “Had to find the virile youth again.'

“Tennessee Plates”

'If they'd known what we was up to they wouldn't 'a let us in
When we landed in Memphis like original sin
Up Elvis Presley Boulevard to the Graceland gates
See we were lookin' for a Cadillac with Tennessee plates

Well, there must have been a dozen of them parked in that garage
And there wasn't one Lincoln and there wasn't one Dodge
And there wasn't one Japanese model or make
Just pretty, pretty Cadillacs with Tennessee plates

She saw him singing once when she was seventeen
And ever since that day she's been living in between
I was never king of nothin' but this wild weekend
Anyway he wouldn't care, hell he gave them to his friends

Well this ain't no hotel I'm writin' you from
It's the Tennessee prison up at Brushy Mountain
Where yours sincerely's doin' five to eight
Stampin' out my time makin' Tennessee plates'

John Haitt appreciates the exchange between he and Lyle Lovett. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
John Haitt appreciates the exchange between he and Lyle Lovett. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)

Life is what they write and sing about. Life is both uncomplicated and complex.

Lovett told of a horse he had that “makes you think you know what you're doing.” Anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows what he meant. A horse can read a rider and there are the special ones that take care of the imperfect human.

“Nothing But a Good Ride”

'He knows it's nothing but a good ride
No there's nothing there he can't slide
No there's nothing that he won't spin
No there's nothing to it do it again
No it's nothing but the big show
No there's nowhere that he won't go
No he never has to ask why
He knows it's nothing but a good ride

He says there's something about a sunrise
Waking up sleepy eyed
He says there's something about a highway
Telling him he can't stay
He says there's something about a long drive
That gives him some peace of mind
And there's something that he can't take
When he's coming in second place'

Thankfully we have those who hold up a mirror so we can learn who we are.