If Lyle Lovett’s debut album proposed an artist who wasn’t going to be fully bound by his particular genre designation — in this case, “Country”, then the follow-up, Pontiac, doubled down on that proposition.
Of course there were straight-out country songs, but there were also folk songs, R&B songs (which he would explore more deeply on the follow-up), and whatever in the hell “If I Had a Boat” was.
Over a twinkling country blues guitar and a descending bassline, Lovett does two things that I’m a sucker for: start a song with the chorus and start a song with the word “and.”
And if I had a boat
I’d go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I’d ride him on my boat
And we could all together
Go out on the ocean
I said me upon my pony on my boat
And while I’d be the first to admit that this doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense, by the time the kick-drum / hi-hat beat comes in for the second chorus over a swirling steel guitar and strumming acoustic, you’re already lost in the eternally beautiful melody he came up with, and probably not ready for the next verse:
Now the mystery masked man was smart
He got himself a Tonto
‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said “Kemosabe
Kiss my ass I bought a boat
I’m going out to sea”
And that’s where we’re going to leave them: Lyle Lovett & Tonto riding their ponies on their respective boats, without a care in the world.
Official video for “If I Had a Boat”
“If I Had a Boat” performed live
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