, when Lyle Lovett starts to sing about bears on the first track of the first CD of his Step Inside this House
release (MCA/Curb (MCAD2-11831), you'd think it was pure Lovett:
Some folks say there ain't no bears in Arkansas.
Some folks never seen a bear at all.
Some folks say that bears go around eating babies raw.
Some folks got a bear across the hall.
Some folks say that bears go around smelling bad.
Others say that a bear is honey sweet.
Some folks say "this bear's the best I ever had."
Some folks got a bear beneath their feet.
After all, Lyle had turned his peculiar songwriting talents to songs about his affection for ponies in "If I Had a Boat
" (from Pontiac
) and one girl's obsession with "Penguins" on I Love Everybody.
But "Bears", released as the first single
from the album, is, like all the songs on it, a cover version. Written by Stephen Fromholz
, an artist that Lovett discovered via Jan Reid's 1973 book on the Austin music scene, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock
, the song first appeared on Fromholz's 1976 LP
, Rumor in My Own Time.
Some folks drive the bears out of the wilderness.
Some to see a bear would pay a fee.
Me I just bear up to my bewildered best,
and some folks even seen the bear in me.
So meet a bear and take him out to lunch with you.
And even though your friends may stop and stare,
just remember that's a bear there in the bunch with you,
and they just don't come no better than a bear.
That's Lyle on guitar
, Viktor Krauss on bass
, Russ Kunkel on the drums
, Matt Rollings on piano
, and Dean Parks on electric guitar
by Sam Bush
(making the single one of the very few on Triple A radio
to feature a mandolin solo) and yes, that dobro
is played by Jerry Douglas
And as to the meaning of the song? Was it included as a subtle, if absurdist, commentary of the life of a musical celebrity-- or as a loving tribute from a fan who learned guitar playing this song? Is it a wry paean to the inner beast lurking within us all? Or a humorous anti-prejudice anthem? In the end, perhaps, it may just a song about bears... (although when indie artist Mark Weigle sang it on his Out of the Loop CD, the term "bears" itself took on a different meaning in the context of Weigle's marketing to the gay community).