James House – “I Love You Man”
Songwriters: Don Cook, James House, Curly Putnam and Rafe Van Hoy.
“Written by committee” is a standard put-down for jumbled songs so chock-full of cliches without any sort of concentrated focus that it’s easy to imagine a room full of songwriters throwing proverbial darts at a lyrical dartboard in search of easily digestible, commercially viable hits. Like any stereotype, however, this particular brand of song creation doesn’t have to produce such sallow results.
Nashville veteran James House’s new single “I Love You Man” was written by a committee of four, and what a committee it was: Together, Don Cook (“You’re Gonna Miss Me”), House (“Broken Wing”), Curley Putnam (“He Stopped Loving Her Today”) and Rafe Von Hoy (“Golden Ring”) effectively bang out one thoroughly enjoyable rockabilly ditty.
If “I Love You Man,” written by the songwriting heavyweights during a string of summer songwriting sessions held earlier this year, sounds a little bit like a Dwight Yoakam tune, there’s good reason: House was also behind Yoakam’s 1993 Grammy-winning hit “Ain’t That Lonely Yet.” Similarly, this song represents a man satisfied with his newly single status, albeit in a slightly more upbeat, “mano-a-mano” manner: “I love you man/For taking her off my hands/I think one day you’ll understand/Why I’m you’re biggest fan.”
House also borrows Yoakam’s enthusiastic brand of retro honky-tonk rock that works well with his twang that bangs out lyrics like “I hear her calling, so I’ll let you go/I got a bar stool and it’s getting cold/Hey if she ever lets you off that leash/Come on down, the drink’s on me.” The song’s title also works well as an appropriately slurrable declaration that feels like a fresh addition to the crowded “good riddance” song market.
Despite his success with a pen (the songwriter also counts Diamond Rio’s “In a Week or Two,” which reached number two on the country charts, as one of his own), House’s own success as a singer has been limited to three Top 25 singles. And while it’s unlikely this song’s tongue-in-cheek, shake-your-hips vibe will make that garner him a fourth, “I Love You Man” should make a more than sizable dent on the Americana charts.
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