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Dec 11

Lyle Lovett: “God Will”

Lyle Lovett

Lyle. Lovett or leave it.

Whew, Christmas has come and gone — I hope all of you who celebrate it had a good time. As for me, I had a relaxing time with the family, took a couple of days off from the blog, and listened to more versions of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” than I was even aware existed. (We had one of the Pandora Christmas stations tuned in a lot.) But listening to a lot of Christmas music, whether you celebrate the holiday for the religious aspects or not, you end up hearing a lot of the nonsecular Christmas tunes, so you get a pretty heavy dose (as is to be expected) of God and Jesus. So for a little antidote to all that, with references to “God” in a somewhat more secular way, today I’m featuring Lyle Lovett’s cynical “God Will.”

“God Will,” from Lovett’s 1986 debut album, Lyle Lovett, might have one thinking, from a quick glance at the title, that it’s going to be a religious song. However, things are rarely that straightforward with Lovett, whom I consider among the best American songwriters of the past 20+ years (and whose voice is one of my favorites in any genre of music). In this case, Lovett is telling his cheating girlfriend/wife that while “God will” do certain things, he will not:

And who keeps on loving you
When you’ve been lying
Saying things ain’t what they seem
God does, but I don’t
God will, but I won’t
And that’s the difference
Between God and me

Lovett is one of the few singers who could get away with saying something as cheeky as “that’s the difference between God and me” without sounding like he might partly believe it. We know he’s singing with a sly grin, while still being damned angry at the subject of the song. A lot of other people would sing that line (say, Bono, for what might be an overused example) and they’d come across as half wanting you to believe that was in fact the only difference. But Lovett’s wry tone is enough to let you know otherwise, even if you aren’t familiar with Lovett’s noted sense of humor.

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