Lydia Loveless finds inspiration in real-life characters
WANT TO GO?
With Sasha Colette & The Magnolias
WHERE: V-Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday
INFO: 304-781-0680 or www.vclublive.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ohio-born singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless has never actually met Steve Earle, but that hasn't stopped her from penning a song telling the Texas alt-country star to keep his distance.
"Steve Earle" is on "Indestructible Machine," Loveless's latest record. The 21-year-old, who performs Saturday at the V-Club in Huntington said, well, to be absolutely clear, the song isn't actually about the real Steve Earle.
"It's about a guy in Columbus," Loveless explained. "He's actually my next-door neighbor who likes to have really public fights with his girlfriend."
But before he was Loveless's neighbor, he was just a lurker who came to shows in Columbus and tried to meet her because he'd read about her in the local paper.
"The journalist had tried to portray me as a drunken badass," she said, which appealed to the man who would eventually become her neighbor.
He told Loveless, "You seem really cool, and we should write songs together. I'm the Steve Earle of Columbus."
This seemed kind of doubtful to Loveless. Instead, her Steve Earle is just another vaguely seedy character, part of the hard-drinking, hard-lucked and hardheaded company she keeps or simply watches from a safe distance.
Loveless likes writing songs about characters.
"Some of what I write is autobiographical," she said. "But I've known a lot of people who are pretty messed up."
Some days, she's her own favorite subject.
"I'm always looking to make my life a certain way so I'll have something to write about," she admitted.
Sometimes, she said, she'll exaggerate conflict with who she's dating. Relationships are always fertile ground for songwriting.
"But I'm not always the nicest person because of that."
Loveless said she's moving away from writing so much about herself and her personal life and is trying to focus more on the lives of others.
"I'd say my last album was more personal," she said. "This is less about me."
For her, the trick to writing about other people is simply to pay attention. Loveless said she keeps a journal, which she writes in every day.
"I'm always taking notes," she laughed. "It's a very self-absorbed process."
From her journal, she picks out the best parts. A lot of it has a ragged, world-weary quality to it.
"I wish I was better at writing funny things," she said.
But finding something to write about is seldom difficult for her. Sometimes, it lives right next-door.
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.