James House – “I Love You Man”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | November 5th, 2009

james-house-i-love-you-manSongwriters: 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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  1. Sam G
    November 5, 2009 at 9:17 am

    The title’s a little cringe-worthy (and really dated), but the song’s cool. Good for James for getting back to recording; I’ve been a fan of his for many years and always thought he deserved more commercial success than he got.

    Nice review.

  2. Thomas
    November 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

    …when it comes to james house, i’m like one of these young “talifans” – i like almost everything that he comes up with. no exception here.

  3. Rick
    November 5, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Since I like this song it probably has no chance of scoring at Top 40 Airhead Country radio. All the cool retro elements that make it enjoyable are out of fashion for today’s “contemporary country” (ie pop-rock schlock) scene. I’m glad that singles like this are still being released and sometimes get embraced by smaller market stations that still consider the quality of the music itself a relevant factor in determining what gets added to the playlist.

  4. Kim
    November 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I have to rant: I have a 45 minute commute one way to school and I heard “cowboy Casanova” no less than 4 times, 2 stations. I can’t take it anymore…

    Thanks for the review. “ain’t that lonely yet” is one of my favorites.

  5. J.R. Journey
    November 6, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I hear more of a Mavericks influence than Dwight Yoakam on this track. Still, a great listen and a fun song.

  6. Bobby P. (TenPoundHammer)
    November 8, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    James had three Top 25 hits, not two: “Don’t Quit Me Now” at #25 in 1989, “Little by Little” at #25 in 1995, and “This Is Me Missing You” at #6 in 1995.

  7. Jon
    November 9, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Title possibly inspired by equally-fun-but-otherwise-unrelated movie of the same name?
    The world may never know.

    Anyway, I like it. I can definitely hear the Dwight Yoakam/Mavericks vibe. Good song. No chance of being a hit.

  8. Karlie Justus
    November 10, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the correction. I’ve updated the review.

  9. shaleen
    April 2, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Um I would just like to note that James House DID NOT barrow Yokums style. In fact I’m pretty sure House came BEFORE Yokum! And House is WAY better!!!

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