75. Lyle Lovett - Nobody Knows Me

I praised the last song on the list, #75's "Wonderwall" for starting simple and then building complexity on top of it, all the while remaining the original strong foundation of the song. This one, Lyle Lovett's "Nobody Knows Me" is like the anti-"Wonderwall." It starts simple and stays simple. The song is a painful lament full of guilt about a man who cheats on his significant other.

In just a few lines, Lovett establishes such a rich depiction of a strong, comfortable relationship:

And I like cream in my coffee
And I like to sleep late on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby
And I like eggs over easy
With flour tortillas
And nobody knows me like my baby

It all looks so wonderfully normal. It's your standard relationship that many have. Maybe the comfort of it is what causes the infidelity. Who knows. But infidelity ruins the relationship, as it often does, and our singer is left to ponder the consequences of that affair "south of the border." Again, with painful brevity, Lovett sums up his regrets:

And I like cream in my coffee
And I hate to be alone on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby

He knows he's blown the best thing he's ever had. But that's what he's left with: a future of solitary Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee and no eggs over easy. As a writer, I can really appreciate the ability Lyle has to sum up a relationship (and the destruction of that relationship) in just a few lines of verse. It's a simple song that cuts to the core.

Usually I have a kind of template about each of these entries. Talk about the artist, talk about the music, sum up, hopefully be funny somewhere in between. For this song, though, the lyrics are the core of why I love this song so much and that's why I address them first. Musically, it's extremely simple, maybe even deceptively so. There's the simple finger-picked acoustic guitar. Session keyboardist Matt Rollings plays a melancholy piano with an almost tentative, embarrassed feel to have interrupted. It's really nice. It's kind of like the feeling that we're kind of embarrassed as listeners to have interrupted the relationship in the song. There's some cello as well that gives a little bit of sonic depth to the song, but never too much.

Lyle sings the song with his earnest tenor, evoking an almost overwhelming regret when he sings, "Nobody knows me like my baby." He's singing with a broken heart, even more broken by the fact that he broke it himself. There are songs that are fun to listen to again and again, and other songs that are meant to move you, or at least provoke you. This song is definitely in the latter camp, and it touches me and makes me think every time I listen to it.

(Fun Fact #146: Not only is Lyle Lovett a great singer/songwriter, but he dabbles in acting as well. He's been in over a dozen movies, including many of Robert Altman's. His performance in 1992's The Player, alongside Whoopi Goldberg, as Detective DeLongpre, was his first, and he's actually pretty good in it.)

No video for this one other than the official one, so here's the link:

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