Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt are both better known for who they spend time with than for their own work.
Lovett is still the ex-Mr. Julia Roberts, while musicians such as Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton have had bigger hits with Hiatt’s songs than he ever did on his own.
What’s lost in all of this is that they’re two of the finest songwriters around.
amNewYork spoke with Hiatt as he got ready to join Lovett on an acoustic tour.
How did you get to know Lyle?
We first got together in 1989 as part of a series of songwriter shows. The idea was to emulate the way songwriters would casually get together around Nashville, hanging around each other’s houses, eating some food and playing some songs. “Pickin’ and grinnin’” was what they’d call it.
What do you like about playing with Lyle as opposed to your own band?
It’s a different kind of magic. It’s dressed down and casual. It’s very unrehearsed, and you never know what’s going to happen.
Your performances together are also known for a lot of banter. What’s it like playing straight man to Lyle?
I feel like Ed McMahon up there. He’s funny as hell and usually sets me up. I’m just the innocent songwriter.
Have you ever thought about writing together?
We don’t want to screw up a good thing. Who knows what will happen, but I think our attitude is to just let the tour be what it is.
If you go: Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt perform at the Beacon Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m. 2124 Broadway, 212-496-7070. $49.50-$79.50