This week, Lyle Lovett released his thirteenth album, It’s Not Big It’s Large. The title is indeed a joke, but probably not the first one that comes to mind. “We had done these arrangements with horn parts, but I’m a folk singer, basically, so the joke was ‘the large band,'” rather than a big band, he explains. “Any time you have a chance to make a joke, you’ve got to take it.” With that credo in mind, the singer-songwriter was perfectly suited to join up with comic genius Judd Apatow on his latest project, the music mockumentary Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Lovett, who has appeared on film several times in the past (remember his turns in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Opposite of Sex?) will be gracing the big screen once again this December alongside Jack White, Eddie Vedder, Jewel and Jack Black in a spoof that tracks the long and strange career of Johnny Cash-style figure Cox (John C. Reilly).
Lovett says he was drawn into the project by its co-writer, Jake Kasdan. “I originally talked to him about writing one of the songs, which I never did,” he says. “I ended up getting to sing [the film’s title song] with Jackson Browne, Jewel and Ghostface Killah, which was really fun, but Marshall Crenshaw actually wrote it.” The track is Cox’s biggest hit, and Lovett and Co. appear onscreen briefly as an all-star band in one of the film’s last scenes, when Vedder hands over Cox’s lifetime achievement award at a Grammy-style ceremony. “We shot one day at the Shrine [auditorium in Los Angeles],” Lovett says. The track, he adds, came together effortlessly. “I had met Jackson years ago and he’s always been really kind to me over the years. And I had met Jewel but I had never sung with her. She was great to work with. And it was the first time to meet Ghostface Killah. It was very cool, he’s very cool. There’s a breakdown in our version, in the middle of it, where Jewel yodels and he raps over that.”