‘Walk Through the Bottomland,’ Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris


The cover of Lyle Lovett’s 1987 album, “Pontiac.”

A “New Jersey lady” falls in love with a cowboy in Lyle Lovett‘s “Walk Through the Bottomland.” You just know that’s not going to end well.

Lovett refers to her that way throughout the song, using that same three-word phrase in five of the song’s six verses, as if to underscore that a Northeaster and a cowboy is not a good match. “The rodeo life was the life that he knew/He had to keep drifting along,” he sings on this track from his 1987 album, Pontiac.

It’s one of Lovett’s greatest compositions, a sad love song full of great beauty and tenderness, and also a bit of mystery. What exactly does it mean to “walk through the bottomland without no shoes”? I don’t believe Lovett has ever explained.

Emmylou Harris added heartbreaking backing vocals to the studio version, and accompanies Lovett on the clip below.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.

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